By Jake Donovan
Fighting in his first Showtime headliner, Gary Russell claimed his first major title in the pro ranks with a 4th round knockout of Jhonny Gonzalez at The Palms in Las Vegas. The bout headlined the March 28 edition of Showtime Championship Boxing, averaging 519,000 viewers over the course of the brief affair.
The telecast peaked at 575,000 viewers.
Gonzalez (57-9, 48KOs) was attempting the third defense of the featherweight belt he snatched live on Showtime airwaves with his shocking 1st round knockout of Abner Mares in Aug. ’13. Saturday’s bout marked just his second network headliner.
Russell has previously appeared on Showtime Championship boxing last June in a loss to Vasyl Lomachenko and a March ’13 win over Vyacheslav Gusev. The showdown with Lomachenko came with a considerable amount of hype, the first notable fight between a Top Rank fighter (Lomachenk) and a Golden Boy/Al Haymon fighter (Russell).
As such, it came with more fanfare, not to mention that Saturday’s broadcast had the unfortunate scenario of competing with NCAA college basketball Regional Finals coverage, including top-ranked Kentucky beating Notre Dame on TBS.
Overall, Russell-Gonzalez saw a 10% drop in viewership from Russell’s loss to Lomachenko, which averaged 578,000 viewers as part of a televised tripleheader last June.
Serving as an additional deterrent to the broadcast was the lack of action to come from its lead-in bout, as Jermell Charlo took a debatable 10-round decision over Vanes Martirosyan. Both fighters landed an average of less than 10 punches per round of the course of the contest, which many called an unofficial title eliminator given their respective placements in the junior middleweight division.
The bout averaged 378,000 viewers, peaking at 468,000. Both numbers declined from Charlo’s twin brother Jermall Charlo’s last SCB appearance, knocking out Lenny Bottai in the 3rd round of their Dec. ’13 clash that pulled in 451,000 viewers. The bout was part of a televised tripleheader that was topped by Amir Khan’s 12-round win over Devon Alexander. Jermell fought on the undercard, though his win over Mario Lozano was limited to the SHO Extreme portion of the card.
Detached from the March 28 prime time show but also airing on Showtime earlier in the day, Kell Brook enjoyed a triumphant ring return, scoring a 4th round knockout of mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan in their welterweight title bout.
The bout was featured as a one-off broadcast live from Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England as part of a newly developed Showtime Boxing International series. The coverage—which came in conjunction with Sky Sports in the United Kingdom—produced a live viewing audience of 143,000 viewers, peaking at 166,000. The replay, which aired later in the evening, increased in viewership, drawing an average of 230,000 viewers and topping out at 284,000 viewers.
All data provided by Nielsen Media Research.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox