ESPN’s viewership went up slightly Tuesday night from the audience the network attracted for its boxing broadcast a week earlier.
Nielsen Media Research numbers released Thursday indicated that an average audience of 318,000 tuned in to watch Top Rank’s three-hour, 16-minute show Tuesday night. Viewership peaked at 388,000 during the co-featured fight, Luis Alberto Lopez’s upset of Andy Vences in a 10-round junior lightweight fight.
Mexico’s Lopez (21-2, 11 KOs) hurt Vences badly with a right uppercut early in the sixth round, but a resilient Vences (23-2-1, 12 KOs) avoided getting knocked out and regained control of their fight in the later rounds. Lopez still beat the San Jose, California, native on two of the three scorecards (96-94, 96-94, 94-96).
The peak audience for the main event, junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda’s 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Kendo Castaneda, was 354,000.
Zepeda (32-2, 25 KOs, 2 NC), a southpaw from La Puente, California, comfortably out-boxed San Antonio’s Castaneda (17-2, 8 KOs, 1 NC) on his way to winning by scores of 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93. Castaneda was a late replacement for former IBF junior welterweight champ Ivan Baranchyk (20-1, 13 KOs), who suffered a rib injury while sparring late in June.
The show headlined by Zepeda-Castaneda was watched by more viewers than ESPN’s three-hour, 15-minute telecast the previous Tuesday night. That card, which featured junior welterweight contender Alex Saucedo’s 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Sonny Fredrickson, averaged 298,000 viewers and drew a peak audience of 378,000 toward the end of the Saucedo-Fredrickson fight.
Both of the aforementioned cards took place at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, where Bob Arum’s Top Rank has staged nine shows since June 9. Another Top Rank/ESPN show is scheduled for Thursday night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), when heavyweights Jerry Forrest (26-3, 20 KOs), of Newport News, Virginia, and Carlos Takam (38-5-1, 28 KOs), of Henderson, Nevada, will square off in the 10-round main event.
Takam replaced undefeated contender Jarrell Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) on about 10 days’ notice after Brooklyn’s Miller failed another test for performance-enhancing drugs.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.