By Jake Donovan
The August 29 edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on ESPN proved to be a success on every level. Airing live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the main event provided a Fight of the Year contender, a packed house (13,109 in attendance), and a healthy average of 1.217 million viewers over the course of the two-plus hour telecast.
Viewership peaked at 1.641 million viewers, coming towards the end of the broadcast. Both numbers give ESPN its highest rated boxing telecast on any of its platforms since 1998.
Additionally, the event drew 355,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes, a record-breaking number for the Spanish-only network.
The full show—which also saw Julio Ceja climb off the canvas to stop Hugo Ruiz in five rounds in the co-main event—provided a 50% increase from the July 11 inaugural edition of PBC on ESPN. Through three installments, each episode has increased in ratings, a positive trend for the primetime series on the regional sports network.
Santa Cruz produced the signature win of his career to date, doing so while moving up to the featherweight division. The undefeated pressure fighter from Mexico enjoyed title reigns at bantamweight and super bantamweight before deciding to move up for good to featherweight.
His first fight at the full limit (his previous ring appearance took place at a 124 lb. catchweight) came in a fight that was two years in the making. However, it required Mares to resume his winning ways following a shocking 1st round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in their Aug. '13 clash.
Stark criticism had surrounded Santa Cruz' level of competition over that stretch, but he silenced his critics to a degree with Saturday's performance, which was a smash hit in every facet.
The strong ratings pull improves on the August 1 edition, which drew an average of 1.073 million viewers. Danny Garcia knocked out Paul Malignaggi in nine one-sided rounds in the main event, while Daniel Jacobs and Sergio Mora traded opening round knockdowns before Mora suffered a broken ankle in round two, declaring Jacobs a TKO winner by injury.
It also continues a trend of building (or in some cases, rebuilding) audiences on the slew of networks on which the series airs. The August 15 edition of PBC on NBC Sports Network jumped nearly 50% from the July 26 installment, with the August 14 showing of PBC on Spike TV—also featuring a Fight of the Year candidate in Krzysztof Glowacki rising from the deck to knock out long-reigning cruiserweight champ Marco Huck—showing a similar improvement from its previous showing in June.
The month of August also saw the PBC series debut on Bounce TV, entering with a smash. The August 2 tripleheader produced an average of 459,000 viewers and peaking at 667,000 viewers, both numbers good for the highest-rated first-run program in the network's history.
All ratings data provided by
Nielsen Media Research
PBC aired on ESPN for the third time, though its next installment has yet to be announced. ESPN traditionally airs college football in primetime on Saturday evenings throughout the fall months.
The next PBC show airs Sunday, September 6 on CBS live from Amercian Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Anthony Dirrell faces Marco Antonio Rubio in a super middleweight bout, while England's Jamie McDonnell returns stateside—as well as to Texas and CBS—for a rematch with Tomoki Kameda, whom he outpointed in their May thriller.
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