By Keith Idec
More boxing fans were willing to watch Deontay Wilder fight Bermane Stiverne again than many might’ve expected.
According to ratings released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research, Wilder’s vicious, first-round knockout of Stiverne drew a peak audience of 887,000 viewers Saturday night from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. An average of 824,000 viewers tuned in for their brief bout, in which Wilder knocked down Stiverne three times before it was stopped with one second left in the first round.
The Wilder-Stiverne rematch wasn’t considered a particularly appealing bout because Wilder defeated Stiverne convincingly in their first fight, a 12-rounder Wilder won by unanimous decision in January 2015. That longer fight, in which Wilder won the WBC heavyweight title from Stiverne at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, drew a peak audience of 1.34 million viewers and an average viewership of 1.24 million on Showtime.
Only one live fight since the first Wilder-Stiverne bout drew higher ratings for Showtime than the Wilder-Stiverne rematch. Viewership for Mikey Garcia’s decisive victory over Adrien Broner in their 12-round, 140-pound bout July 29 at Barclays Center peaked at 937,000 viewers and averaged 881,000.
Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was supposed to box unbeaten Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs, 2 NC) on Saturday night. Haiti's Stiverne, the mandatory challenger for Wilder’s title, replaced Ortiz once the former WBA interim champion tested positive for two banned substances late in September.
Immediately before the Wilder-Stiverne rematch Saturday night, the Shawn Porter-Granados welterweight fight peaked at 696,000 viewers and averaged 646,000. Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), of Akron, Ohio, overcame an injury to his left hand to beat Granados (18-6-2, 12 KOs), of Cicero, Illinois, by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder and remains in line for a rematch with WBA/WBC welterweight champion Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC).
The opener of Showtime’s tripleheader Saturday night, Sergey Lipinets-Akihiro Kondo, was watched by a peak audience of 530,000 and drew an average of 427,000 viewers. Kazakhstan’s Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) beat Japan’s Kondo (29-7-1, 16 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-round bout to win the vacant IBF junior welterweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.