The final televised boxing card of the year in the United States returned favorable ratings and perhaps the start of a new tradition.
A special Christmas evening edition of PBC Fight Night on Fox averaged 2,726,000 viewers, the best figure in the series’ six-year history on the free-to-air network. The four-fight telecast peaked at 5,904,000 viewers, coming just after the 8:00 pm ET start time following a special Saturday edition of NFL on FOX between the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers which averaged a weekend-best 28,588,000 viewers.
The viewership average made Saturday’s telecast the most watched boxing event on any televised network since July 2017, when the debut of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN—headlined by Jeff Horn’s stunning upset of Manny Pacquiao—averaged 2,812,000 viewers, peaking at 4,400,000.
Headlining the show, Vito Mielnicki Jr. (10-1, 7KOs) scored a tenth-round stoppage of Nicholas DeLomba in front of his hometown crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The welterweight bout averaged 1,865,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research, landing as the second most-watched PBC on Fox telecast of the year.
The series’ best performing main event came during its first telecast of 2021, when then-unbeaten IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant outpointed former titlist Caleb Truax in a January 30 bout that averaged 1,887,000 viewers and peaked at 2,019,000 viewers.
Mielnicki made his fourth network appearance of 2021 and his first as a main event fighter. The 19-year-old prospect from Roseland, New Jersey went more rounds on Saturday than at any point during his young career, fittingly in his first fight scheduled for ten rounds. Mielnicki had never earned a stoppage beyond the third round, including his previous fight when he stopped late substitute Noah Kidd in the second round of the July 31 PBC on Fox co-feature. That fight also took place at the Prudential Center, as did his July 2019 pro debut.
The four-fight telecast viewership average saw a 232% increase from the December 18 edition of PBC on Fox, which averaged 822,000 viewers. The main event for that show saw prodigious Cuban super middleweight David Morrell (6-0, 5KOs) stop Alantez Fox (28-3-1, 13KOs; 1NC) in the fourth round of a fight that averaged 1,031,000 viewers.
Preceding Saturday’s primetime show was a preliminary card on FS1 that averaged 124,000 viewers. The three-fight lead-in show peaked at 159,000 viewers during the 7:30-7:4pm ET block.
The December 25 show marked the first major Christmas night boxing card in the United States since 1969 and the first to air live on network television on the celebrated holiday.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox