Shakur Stevenson’s uneventful victory over Jeremiah Nakathila prompted Stevenson to apologize for what he considers a subpar performance.
Viewership still went up as their monotonous match continued Saturday night. According to a Nielsen Media Research report released Tuesday, ESPN’s telecast of Stevenson’s 12-round points win drew an average audience of 857,000 and a peak audience of 927,000 toward the end of it.
Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), of Newark, New Jersey, won the WBO interim junior lightweight title in a main event ESPN televised from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Viewership was lower, however, than for Stevenson’s previous fight on ESPN. That bout – a 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Toka Kahn Clary – drew an average of 1,281,000 viewers December 12 from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
On Saturday night, Stevenson knocked Nakathila to the canvas late in the fourth round with a right hook and cruised to a shutout win on the scorecards of judges Lisa Giampa, Patricia Morse Jarman and Dave Moretti. Each judge scored their 130-pound title fight 120-107 for Stevenson.
The 23-year-old Stevenson still drew criticism from fans and media for not pressing to knock out Namibia’s Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs), a powerful opponent whose skill level was much lower. ESPN analyst Timothy Bradley cracked that he had difficulty staying awake at ringside during their fight.
Nevertheless, Stevenson advanced to a fall fight against WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KOs).
The opener of ESPN’s doubleheader Saturday night, Jose Pedraza’s stoppage of Julian Rodriguez, was watched by an average audience of 732,000. Peak viewership for Pedraza-Rodriguez was 826,000, shortly after ESPN’s telecast of UFC 263 prelims ended.
Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs) was ahead by the same score, 77-75, on all three scorecards when their scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout ended after the eighth round. Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, declined to come out of his corner for the ninth round due to an injury around his left eye.
The 26-year-old Rodriguez revealed after suffering his first professional defeat that he sustained fractures to his orbital bone beneath his left eye.
The 32-year-old Pedraza, a two-division champion, out-boxed his younger, favored opponent prior to the stoppage.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.