Artur Beterbiev’s power surge in the ring was met with a ratings spike among home viewers.

The June 18 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN fired on all cylinders, including a main event where an average of 912,000 viewers tuned in for Beterbiev’s second-round, technical knockout of Joe Smith Jr. Beterbiev defended his unified lineal/WBC/IBF light heavyweight championship while violently snatching Smith’s WBO title in Saturday’s headliner at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.

The two-fight telecast—which began on time at 10:00 p.m. ET and lasted just 86 minutes—averaged 753,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research, marking the third best performing ESPN boxing card of 2022. Nielsen-reported ratings for the main event and the telecast as a whole do not include viewership from other ESPN platforms, including ESPN Deportes and streaming service ESPN+, both of which provided live coverage of the televised doubleheader.

The show as a whole improved by nearly 36% above its predecessor one week prior involving the same network, promoter and venue, with the June 11 show averaging just 555,000 viewers.

Headlining the June 11 show from MSG’s Hulu Theater, unbeaten Nuyorican super middleweight Edgar Berlanga (20-0, 16KOs) outpointed former two-time title challenger Roamer Alexis Angulo (27-3, 23KOs) over ten rounds. The main event didn’t begin until 12:13 a.m. ET, with the bout averaging just 504,000 viewers and peaking at 515,000 viewers.

The delayed telecast and post-midnight headliner resulted in viewership dramatically decreasing, as the show’s opening segment averaged 784,000 viewers before a punch was thrown. The figure was largely spill-over from a lead-in NHL Eastern Conference Final game between Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers whose telecast drew an average audience of 2,837,000 viewers and a peak viewership of 3,789,000.

Saturday’s offering enjoyed a far more positive trend. The boxing telecast outperformed its televised lead-in, a well-received UFC Fight Night which drew an average audience of 716,000 viewers. Viewership increased from the start of the Top Rank show, with two-time Olympic Gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez’s stunning, fifth-round knockout of unbeaten Abraham Nova averaging 738,000 viewers over the course of their featherweight contest.

Minimal time was wasted between the co-feature and the main event, fitting given the brief but emphatic performance delivered by Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs)—a two-time Russian Olympian who moved to Montreal upon turning pro in 2013. The win marked his earliest knockout in seven career title fights dating back to his 12th round stoppage of Enrick Koelling to win the vacant IBF light heavyweight title in November 2017.

Beterbiev added the WBC title three fights into his reign, knocking out unbeaten Oleksandr Gvozdyk in their October 2019 unification bout which averaged 635,000 viewers. Just two title defenses followed for the unbeaten Chechen fighter—a tenth-round stoppage of IBF mandatory Adam Deines last March in Moscow, and a ninth-round stoppage of WBC mandatory challenger Marcus Browne last December 17 in Montreal.

The win over Deines aired in primetime in Moscow but in the afternoon in the U.S. during the NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament, resulting in just 287,000 viewers watching Beterbiev’s fourth successful title defense. His victory over Browne last December aired exclusively on ESPN+, due to ESPN’s linear network carrying an already scheduled NBA doubleheader.

Smith (28-4, 22KOs) saw his title reign end after 14 months, with just one successful defense wedged in between.

The blue-collar light heavyweight from the Mastic Beach section of Long Island, New York won the WBO belt in a decision win over Maxim Vlasov last April 10, with the ESPN-televised main event averaging 506,000 viewers and peaking at 541,000 toward the end of the twelve-round title fight.

Smith’s lone defense came in a ninth-round stoppage of Steve Geffrard, a late replacement for England’s Callum Johnson who withdrew from the January 15 title fight due to testing positive for Covid-19. The bout topped a telecast that averaged 460,000 viewers.

Following Beterbiev’s destructive win came an industry-wide demand for an undisputed showdown with WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs), who is coming off a career-best win in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez atop a May 7 DAZN Pay-Per-View telecast from Las Vegas. The fight will have to wait out mandatory challenger obligations, with Beterbiev more likely to next face WBO number-one contender Anthony Yarde later this year in the United Kingdom.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox