Berchelt-Valenzuela ESPN Telecast Averages 416K Viewers
A time-marking ring appearance by Miguel Berchelt along with a strong combat sports lead-in helped ESPN produce its most favorable ranking for a boxing telecast during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The reigning junior lightweight titlist from Merida, Mexico moved up in weight for a non-title showcase headliner versus countryman Eleazar Valenzuela (21-14-4, 16KOs). The bout topped the June 27 special edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN, live from a closed-doors TV Azteca studio lot in Mexico City with the telecast averaging 416,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.
Saturday’s card reached a peak viewing audience of 793,000, which came right at the start of the telecast at 11:43pm ET. The overall telecast average is an improvement from the same location one week prior, when reigning 122-pound titlist Emanuel Navarrete scored a 6th round stoppage of Uriel Lopez in a non-title fight which averaged 327,000 viewers. The June 20 event peaked at 808,000 viewers, most of which lingered from a preceding UFC Fight Night card and very few of whom stuck around for the main event.
The live feed was picked up 43 minutes after its originally scheduled 11:00pm ET start time, due to a lead-in UFC Fight Night card running long. Two preliminary bouts on the Mexico City card failed to make the broadcast as a result, though viewers had to be content with what ran its in place.
The latest installment of UFC Fight Night—which aired live from Las Vegas—was headlined by Dustin Poirier’s unanimous decision win over Dan Hooker in one of the best fights to take place in any combat sports capacity in 2020. The five-round war anchored the 163-minute main card telecast which averaged 1,070,000 viewers.
For the second straight week, however, the opening bout of the trailing boxing telecast carried far more viewers than the main event. By the time Berchelt (38-1, 34KOs) made his way to the ring, the televised audience was reduced by more than half as 381,000 viewers remained locked in for the start of the main event, dropping to an average of 349,000 viewers over the course of his latest victory.
Unbeaten featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson headlined the June 9 inaugural edition of Top Rank’s closed-doors summer series in Las Vegas, with the show averaging 397,000 viewers and a peak viewing audience of 609,000 coming at the time of Stevenson’s 6th round knockout of Felix Caraballo in their non-title fight.
Both figures serve as the best among the six cards to air live from Las Vegas over that stretch. The ratings for Stevenson’s bout remains the most watched boxing main event during the ongoing pandemic.
Interestingly, Stevenson and Berchelt will likely wind up in the same weight division for their next respective bouts. Stevenson moved up to junior lightweight for his bout with Caraballo, insisting he will likely remain at the weight moving forward although he still remains the WBO featherweight champion.
Berchelt’s win over Valenzuela was likely a one-and-done affair at lightweight. Plans call for the long-reigning 130-pound titlist to next defend his crown versus countryman Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21KOs), a former featherweight titlist from Nogales, Mexico who first headlines an ESPN telecast of his own as he faces Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez (29-6-1, 21KOs) on July 21 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
The ESPN boxing series returns to Las Vegas on Tuesday, with a four-fight telecast topped by a junior welterweight crossroads bout between former title challenger Alex Saucedo (29-1, 19KOs) and Sonny Fredrickson (21-2, 14KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox