By Keith Idec
David Lemieux’s lopsided loss to Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday night drew more viewers than Lemieux’s previous appearance on HBO.
Ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research indicated that the Saunders-Lemieux main event drew a peak audience of 775,000 viewers on Saturday night from Laval, Quebec, Canada. Their 12-round fight, which Saunders won convincingly, was watched by an average of 716,000 viewers.
Viewership was lower for Lemieux’s last HBO bout, a spectacular third-round knockout of Curtis Stevens on March 11 in Verona, New York (peak: 672,000; average: 606,000).
England’s Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), the WBO middleweight champion, made his HBO debut against Montreal’s Lemieux (38-4, 33 KOs), who had difficulty dealing with Saunders’ boxing ability and movement, and lost a unanimous decision.
Earlier Saturday night, HBO’s broadcast of Spike O’Sullivan’s seventh-round knockout of Antoine Douglas peaked at 696,000 viewers. An average of 668,000 viewers watched Ireland’s O’Sullivan (27-2, 19 KOs) beat the favored Douglas (22-2-1, 16 KOs), of Burke, Virginia.
The opener of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader, Yves Ulysse Jr.-Cletus Seldin, averaged 624,000 viewers and was watched by a peak audience of 717,000. Montreal’s Ulysse (15-1, 9 KOs) knocked down Seldin (21-1, 17 KOs, 1 NC), of Bay Shore, New York, once apiece in each of the first three rounds and easily out-boxed him to win a 10-round unanimous decision.
Saturday’s show drew stronger ratings than HBO’s tripleheader the previous Saturday night, but lured fewer viewers than the first of HBO’s three December boxing broadcasts.
The main event of HBO’s three-bout broadcast December 9 from Las Vegas, Miguel Roman’s ninth-round knockout of Orlando Salido, peaked at 618,000 viewers and averaged 576,000.
That telecast competed with an ESPN boxing broadcast that featured Vasyl Lomachenko’s technical-knockout win against Guillermo Rigondeaux in the main event. ESPN’s four-fight show averaged 1,730,000 viewers.
On December 2, a peak audience of 1,012,000 tuned in to HBO for Miguel Cotto’s farewell fight. An average of 944,000 viewers watched Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali (26-1, 14 KOs) upset Puerto Rico’s Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs) by out-boxing him and winning a unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.