Nearly one million viewers watched Oscar Valdez’s career-defining knockout of Miguel Berchelt on ESPN.
According to viewership figures released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research, Valdez-Berchelt was watched by an average audience of approximately 895,000 on Saturday night. Viewership peaked at 960,000 toward the end of Valdez’s impressive upset of Berchelt in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round, 130-pound title fight at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Nielsen’s numbers account for only those who watched Valdez-Berchelt on ESPN.
Their fight also was streamed live on ESPN+, which accounts for a significant number of viewers. ESPN does not release viewership figures for events offered on ESPN+, the network’s $6-per-month streaming service.
Mexico’s Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) went off as approximately a 4-1 favorite versus Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs), who was the mandatory challenger for Berchelt’s WBC super featherweight title. Valdez dominated his countryman and friend, however, and knocked him down once apiece in the fourth, ninth and 10th rounds.
Valdez viciously knocked Berchelt out cold with a left knock just before the 10th round ended.
The final three-plus rounds of the Valdez-Berchelt bout aired at the same time as the first three-plus rounds of Showtime’s main event Saturday night – Adrien Broner’s unanimous-decision victory over Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago in a 12-round welterweight fight.
Nielsen reported Tuesday that an average audience of 288,000 watched Broner beat Santiago. Broner-Santiago attracted a peak audience of 304,000.
ESPN, a basic cable channel, has more than 50 million more subscribers than Showtime, a premium cable network.
ESPN aired only one undercard bout before it televised Valdez-Berchelt.
An average of 786,000 viewers tuned in for the opening bout, Gabriel Flores Jr.’s sixth-round technical knockout of Jayson Velez. Viewership peaked at 847,000 toward the beginning of the junior lightweight bout between Flores (20-0, 7 KOs), of Stockton, California, and Velez (29-8-1, 21 KOs), of Juncos, Puerto Rico.
Velez was considered a step up in opposition for Flores. The 20-year-old Flores was ahead on all three scorecards (50-45, 49-46, 49-46) when he first floored Velez with a left hook.
Velez barely beat referee Tony Weeks’ count, only to get dropped again by another left hook. After that second knockdown, Weeks promptly stopped their scheduled 10-rounder at 1:47 of the sixth round.
The 32-year-old Velez lost by TKO in a second straight fight. Valdez knocked him down three times – once in the fifth round and twice in the 10th round, when their scheduled 10-round battle was stopped July 21 at MGM Grand Conference Center.
ESPN’s entire two-hour, nine-minute broadcast drew an average of 771,000 viewers Saturday night.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.