By Keith Idec
More viewers tuned in to watch Jaime Munguia fight after he dismantled Sadam Ali two months earlier.
According to ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research, Munguia’s first title defense drew a peak audience of 827,000 viewers on Saturday night for HBO. An average of 777,000 viewers watched Munguia defeat England’s Liam Smith by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 154-pound title fight at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Two months earlier, Munguia’s first fight on HBO attracted a peak audience of 779,000 and an average viewership of 711,000. Munguia, then relatively unknown among American boxing fans, knocked down Ali four times in that fight and won by fourth-round technical knockout May 12 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Munguia (30-0, 25 KOs) replaced Smith as Ali’s opponent on less than two weeks’ notice. Smith withdrew from his fight against Ali because a skin condition prevented him from training.
The 21-year-old Munguia’s dominant performance against Ali (26-2, 14 KOs) created interest in his first defense of the WBO junior middleweight title. He had more difficulty defeating Smith (26-2-1, 14 KOs), his mandatory challenger, but still won comfortably.
The resilient Smith overcame a sixth-round knockdown to reach the final bell. He exposed some of Munguia’s defensive flaws, though Munguia still won easily on all three scorecards (119-108, 117-110, 116-111).
The opener of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader drew slightly lower ratings than the main event Saturday night.
Alberto Machado’s convincing victory over Rafael Mensah in their 12-round, 130-pound championship match attracted a peak audience of 762,000. An average of 665,000 viewers watched the Machado-Mensah match.
Puerto Rico’s Machado (20-0, 16 KOs) dropped his untested opponent with a right hook in the first round and appeared to be on his way to a quick knockout against Ghana’s Mensah (31-1, 23 KOs). Machado controlled the action thereafter, yet couldn’t knock down Mensah again and settled for a decision win.
The 27-year-old Machado won every round on the scorecards of all three judges (120-107).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.