By Keith Idec
Top Rank’s show Saturday night didn’t resonate with viewers the way its previous ESPN card did.
Its doubleheader featuring Gilberto Ramirez and Jerwin Ancajas in separate fights averaged 741,000 viewers, according to ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. Top Rank’s last ESPN offering of 2017, headlined by Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, averaged 1.73 million viewers December 9.
A lower rating for Saturday’s show was anticipated due to the differing levels of those two events. The bout between Lomachenko and Rigondeaux, who declined to continue after six rounds in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, was a much higher-profile fight than the main even between Ramirez and Habib Ahmed.
Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs, 1 NC) is eight years older than Ukraine’s Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) and moved up two weight classes to challenge him for the WBO super featherweight title. Like Lomachenko, however, he was generally regarded as one of the top 10 boxers, pound-for-pound, in the world.
Mexico’s Ramirez is an unbeaten super middleweight champion. Ghana’s Ahmed, though the No. 4 contender for Ramirez’s WBO 168-pound title, was completely unknown among American fight fans before Saturday night and hadn’t boxed outside of Ghana since turning pro in August 2011.
Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs) completely controlled their one-sided fight and stopped Ahmed (25-1-1, 17 KOs) in the sixth round at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In the opener of ESPN’s doubleheader, which started at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET, Ancajas, a Filipino southpaw who has drawn comparisons to Manny Pacquiao, knocked out Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez in the 10th round of their 115-pound title fight.
Ancajas (29-1-1, 20 KOs) dropped Gonzalez (21-2, 8 KOs) three times, once in the first round and twice in the 10th, before their scheduled 12-rounder was stopped.
Top Rank’s next card on ESPN, with which Bob Arum’s promotional company has an exclusive television deal, is scheduled for February 16.
That show will be headlined by Phoenix’s Ray Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs, 1 NC), who’ll meet Namibia’s Paulus Moses (40-3, 25 KOs) for the vacant WBO lightweight title in Reno, Nevada.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.