By Jake Donovan
Despite a disastrous lead-in to fight weekend, there was some good news for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to take from his July 18 clash with countryman Marcos Reyes in El Paso, Texas. The second-generation boxer enjoyed a better performance both in the ring and in the ratings than was the case in his forgettable Showtime-televised debut in April.
That’s really where the good news ends for the former middleweight titlist. Topping a day/night telecast at Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Chavez’ 10-round win over Reyes played to an average of 663,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research .
Showtime was also able to scratch out good news from the boxing weekend: its July 17 quadrupleheader drew a healthy 277,000 viewers, an impressive figure for a traditional Friday night Shobox card.
Average viewership improved nearly 10% from Chavez Jr’s Showtime Championship Boxing debut in April, in which he quit on stool after nine rounds versus Andrzej Fonfara. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 172 lbs, as means for Chavez to gradually work his way back down to super middleweight following a 13-month ring hiatus largely due to a lengthy legal battle with former promoter Top Rank as he eventually jumped ship to sign with adviser Al Haymon.
The weight strategy didn’t take, as he not only missed the originally contracted 168 lb. weight limit, but couldn’t even come in at the modified mark of 170 lbs., showing up nearly a full pound heavy during Friday’s weigh-in. While he eventually made his way back to the win column, the performance was poorly received both by viewers at home and among the 9,245 in attendance, most of whom were vocal in disapproval over the recent antics of the son of Mexico’s most revered boxing figure.
Chavez Jr’s last two bouts are a steep fall from grace, as he previously served as one of the sport’s biggest draws. The combined viewership for his two fights in 2015 is lower than the 1.39 million viewers who tuned in for his HBO-televised rematch with over Bryan Vera, the top-rated cable bout of 2014.
Ironically, Chavez Jr. showed up in better shape and offered a stronger performance than was the case in his first fight with Vera, struggling to a 10-round decision. The debatable win was at least countered with a healthy ratings pull of more than 1.4 million viewers.
Also on the July 18 Showtime telecast:
- Amir Imam punched his way to junior welterweight contention with a 4th round knockout win over Fernando Angulo. The opening fight of the telecast averaged 464,000 viewers. The bout marked Imam’s third straight appearance on Showtime.
- McJoe Arroyo claimed a vacant title following a technical unanimous decision over Arthur Villanueva in an awkward battle of unbeaten junior bantamweights. The bout was halted with less than a minute to go in round 10 due to a cut over Villanueva’s right eye. An average of 514,000 viewers tuned in for the Showtime-televised debut for both fighters.
The July 18 card in El Paso—boasting a whopping 17 bouts total—also included live afternoon coverage on CBS.
The main event saw Carl Frampton overcome two knockdowns in the opening round to score a convincing 12-round win over Alejandro Gonzalez Jr. in the second defense of his junior featherweight title. Opening the afternoon telecast, once-promising heavyweight contender Chris Arreola struggled to a 10-round draw with journeyman Fred Kassi, a performance that could very well cost him a targeted (albeit undeserved) shot at unbeaten heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder atop a planned September 26 NBC primetime telecast.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox