Claressa Shields’ domination of Ivana Habazin drew lower viewership than her prior appearance on Showtime.
Nielsen Media Research revealed Tuesday that a peak audience of 288,000 watched Showtime’s telecast of the Shields-Habazin fight Friday night from Atlantic City, New Jersey. The average viewership for their 10-round, 154-pound championship match was 255,000.
The peak and average viewership figures for Shields’ previous fight on Showtime, an easy victory over Germany’s Christina Hammer in a 10-round, 160-pound title bout April 13 in Atlantic City, were 369,000 and 339,000, respectively. The Shields-Hammer match was a more significant middleweight title unification fight and aired on a Saturday night, when viewership for boxing broadcasts typically is higher than on Friday nights.
Shields has helped draw more than 400,000 viewers for one of her fights since Showtime began broadcasting her bouts in 2017.
Her 10-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Hanna Gabriels was viewed by a peak audience of 410,000 and an average audience of 376,000 in June 2018, also on a Friday night. Shields survived a first-round knockdown against Gabriels and won by scores of 98-91, 97-92 and 97-92 at Masonic Temple in Detroit.
Showtime’s entire three-bout broadcast Friday night averaged 195,000 viewers from Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall. The peak number and average audiences from Friday’s “Showtime Boxing: Special Edition” tripleheader were higher than that of the 2019 peak and average audiences for Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” series, which usually airs on Friday nights.
Friday’s telecast also featured one of boxing’s top prospects, unbeaten welterweight Jaron Ennis. Philadelphia’s Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs) knocked down Kazakhstan’s Bakhtiyar Eyubov twice in the first round and stopped him in the fourth round, with Eyubov (14-2-1, 12 KOs, 1 NC) still on his feet.
In the opener of Showtime’s telecast Friday night, Sweden’s Elin Cederroos (8-0, 4 KOs) knocked down favored Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa (12-2, 7 KOs) in the second round and beat her by unanimous decision in an entertaining 10-round, 168-pound fight for Napoleon-Espinosa’s WBA super middleweight title and Cederroos’ IBF belt.
Cederroos won by the same score, 95-94, on all three cards.
The 24-year-old Shields (10-0, 2 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Flint, Michigan, won the vacant WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles in her first fight within the 154-pound division. Shields also became the fastest fighter in boxing history to win world titles in three weight classes.
By accomplishing that feat in just her 10th professional fight, Shields beat the record established by Vasiliy Lomachenko and matched by Kosei Tanaka. Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Japan’s Tanaka (15-0, 9 KOs) each became three-weight world champions in their respective 12th fights in 2018.
The heavily favored Shields, women’s boxing’s undisputed middleweight champ, made Croatia’s Habazin (20-4, 7 KOs) take a knee by landing a body shot in the sixth round. She won by wide distances on all three scorecards (100-89, 100-90, 99-89).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.