By Keith Idec
The ratings for his HBO debut understandably weren’t as high for Jaime Munguia’s huge win Saturday night as those for the middleweight champion he wanted to fight a week earlier.
Viewers still are much more familiar with the Mexican knockout artist than they were this time last week.
Ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research showed a peak audience of 779,000 watched Munguia’s fourth-round stoppage of Sadam Ali on Saturday night. Their relatively short bout was watched by an average of 711,000 viewers.
Munguia entered the ring at Turning Stone Resort Casino unknown to most American fight fans, apart from his noteworthy willingness last month to challenge Gennady Golovkin on short notice.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission would’ve approve Munguia as a replacement for Canelo Alvarez on May 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas because he had faced a very low level of opposition and would’ve had to move up from 154 pounds to 160 to face Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs). The NSAC’s decision led to Golovkin defending three of his middleweight titles against Vanes Martirosyan on May 5 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Golovkin’s second-round knockout of Martirosyan (36-4-1, 21 KOs) attracted a peak audience of 1,361,000 for HBO, which made it the most-watched boxing match on cable television in 2018.
After he was denied a shot at Golovkin, Munguia jumped at the chance to face Ali on even shorter notice in Verona, New York. Tijuana’s Munguia replaced England’s Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) on about two weeks’ notice once Smith withdrew from his WBO-mandated shot at Ali’s super welterweight title due to a skin condition that prevented Smith from training.
The bigger, stronger Munguia immediately proved his power is legitimate against Ali, by far the best opponent he has faced. The hard-hitting, 21-year-old Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) dropped Ali with a left hook 57 seconds into their scheduled 12-round, 154-pound title fight, and again with a left-right combination when there were 56 seconds to go in the first round.
Brooklyn’s Ali never really recovered from that trouble he withstood during those first three minutes. Munguia knocked down Ali (26-2, 14 KOs) once apiece in the second and fourth rounds, before their fight was stopped at 1:02 of the fourth round.
The opener of HBO’s doubleheader Saturday night, Rey Vargas’ victory over Azat Hovhannisyan, attracted a peak audience of 740,000 and averaged 619,000 viewers. Mexico’s Vargas (32-0, 22 KOs) beat Armenia’s Hovhannisyan (14-3, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight for Vargas’ WBC super bantamweight championship.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.