The first win in nearly two years for Luis Ortiz has landed as the most watched Fox Sports boxing event since the pandemic.
Miami’s Ortiz made quick work of fringe contender Alexander Flores, needing just 45 seconds to end the November 7 main event, which peaked at 1,312,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research. The rating serves as the best figure for any of the five Fox-prime main events since returning to airwaves in August.
The show as a whole—which aired live from Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles—averaged 982,000 viewers, marking the second-best total over that same period. The event was outperformed only by the preceding Premier Boxing Champions on Fox telecast, in which Yordenis Ugas’ 12-round win over Abel Ramos topped a special Sunday edition on September 6 which averaged 1,019,000 viewers. Ugas’ secondary title-winning effort peaked at 1.26 million viewers.
Saturday’s edition scores above the five-telecast average of 905,600 viewers per show since the pandemic.
Four fights aired overall on the evening, though two of which were relegated to FS2 given the start of the time slot was occupied by Fox’s nationwide coverage of president-elect Joe Biden’s victory speech hours after this year’s presidential election was decided on Saturday afternoon.
Biden’s victory over the soon-to-be-exiting President Donald Trump was newsworthy enough at the 8:00 p.m. ET hour to force Carlos Negron’s 2nd round knockout of Rafael Rios onto FS2. The quick ending also meant that Michael Coffie’s hoped-for Fox-prime debut instead resulted in regional cable coverage, where the 34-year old U.S. Marine earned a 2nd round injury stoppage of journeyman Joey Abell.
The impromptu hour-long political news special averaged 1.462 million viewers.
In addition to the near hour-long delay into the live action, the telecast also went head-to-head with college football on NBC. The game turned out to be an instant classic, with number-four ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeating number-one ranked Clemson Tigers, 47-40 in a double-overtime thriller which averaged 10,067,000 viewers.
The Fox-prime telecast ultimately picked up with heavyweight Frank Sanchez (16-0, 12KOs) stopping Brian Howard (15-4, 12KOs) in the 4th round of the evening’s chief support. The win was the first for Sanchez since a 10-round points victory over Joey Dawejko on a March 7 PBC on Fox card, the network’s last live telecast prior to the pandemic.
Ortiz made his debut as a network headliner, with the bout coming 49 weeks after his 7th round knockout loss to Deontay Wilder in their rematch last November on Fox Sports PPV. Ortiz had previously served as the main event for two HBO telecasts and one on Showtime—his first fight with Wilder in which he suffered a 10th round knockout in their March 2018 encounter for his first career defeat.
The trailing post-fight wrap-up Saturday evening on Fox averaged 1,042,000 viewers.
Saturday’s event came in the middle of an active stretch for boxing on Fox Sports platforms.
Highlighting the weekend was the Sunday afternoon presentation of “PBC Countdown: Errol Spence vs. Danny García,” which previewed their December 5 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View headliner from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Network sources tell BoxingScene.com surpassed the series’ maiden launch—featuring Jermall and Jermell Charlo in separate bouts on the same December 2018 telecast—as the most-watch program in the history of the series.
The Sunday afternoon telecast—which aired immediately following or just prior to the NFL on Fox Game of the Week, depending on the market—served as the first shoulder programming event offered by Fox Sports since the pandemic.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox