By Keith Idec
The ratings for HBO’s first boxing broadcast of 2018 are comparable to the premium-cable channel’s last boxing offering of 2017.
Nielsen Media Research ratings released Tuesday indicate HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader Saturday night peaked at 769,000 viewers during the main event, Lucas Matthysse’s eighth-round knockout of Tewa Kiram. An average of 719,000 viewers watched the Matthysse-Kiram match.
The main event of HBO’s final boxing broadcast last year, WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders’ dominant win against David Lemieux on December 16, drew a peak viewership of 775,000 and averaged 716,000 viewers.
Like Kiram, Saunders made his HBO debut when he defended his title against Montreal’s Lemieux in Laval, Quebec, Canada. The British southpaw’s fight against the hard-hitting Lemieux generated more buzz among boxing fans, though.
Argentina’s Matthysse knocked down Kiram twice in the eighth round of what previously had been a boring bout at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The 35-year-old Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) fought on HBO for the first time since Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (29-1, 12 KOs) knocked him out in the 10th round of their October 2015 fight for the WBC super welterweight title in Carson, California. The unknown Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) made his debut on American television and fought outside of his native Thailand for the first time in his 10-year pro career.
The opener HBO aired Saturday night, WBA lightweight champ Jorge Linares’ win against Mercito Gesta, attracted a peak audience of 731,000 viewers and averaged 659,000.
Venezuela’s Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) overcame a slow start to out-box Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs), a Filipino southpaw from San Clemente, California. Linares won their 12-round bout by unanimous decision.
HBO’s opening bout of its tripleheader December 16, Canadian junior welterweight Yves Ulysse Jr.’s dominant win over Long Island’s Cletus Seldin, was watched by a peak audience of 717,000 and averaged 624,000 viewers.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing