A sizable audience tuned in Saturday night to watch Danny Garcia’s first fight in almost 20 months.
Nielsen Media Research released viewership figures Tuesday that indicated Garcia’s 12-round, majority-decision victory over Jose Benavidez Jr. was watched by an average audience of 450,000 on Showtime. Garcia-Benavidez drew a peak audience of 478,000.
Those totals made Garcia-Benavidez the second most-watched boxing match on Showtime in 2022.
Jermell Charlo’s 10th-round stoppage of Brian Castano drew Showtime’s biggest boxing audience of this year. Charlo-Castano, a rematch that determined the sport’s first fully unified 154-pound champion, attracted an average audience of 756,000 and a peak viewership of 832,000.
An audience that large hadn’t watched a fight on Showtime in nearly three years, not since former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale drew 795,000 viewers in May 2019 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia’s Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) hadn’t fought since he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22 KOs) in their December 2020 fight for Spence’s IBF and WBC welterweight titles at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Spence-Garcia headlined a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show.
Garcia beat Benavidez convincingly on the scorecards of judges Ron Paolillo (117-111) and Glenn Feldman (116-112) at Barclays Center. Judge Waleska Roldan scored their fight a draw, 114-114, despite that Garcia landed 116 more punches overall, according to CompuBox.
Showtime’s audience grew considerably Saturday night from the time its co-feature ended until the Garcia-Benavidez bout began.
The second fight of Showtime’s tripleheader – heavyweight contender Ali Eren Demirezen’s 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Adam Kownacki – drew an average of 328,000 viewers and a peak audience of 360,000.
Turkey’s Demirezen (17-1, 12 KOs) and Brooklyn’s Kownacki (20-3, 15 KOs) engaged in an action-packed bout, but Demirezen won on all three scorecards. Judges Martha Tremblay (97-93) and Steve Weisfeld (97-93) scored seven rounds apiece for Demirezen, who won six rounds on the card of judge Mark Consentino (96-94).
The opener of Showtime’s telecast, Gary Antuanne Russell’s controversial sixth-round stoppage of Rances Barthelemy, attracted an average of 250,000 viewers and a peak audience of 275,000.
Russell (16-0, 16 KOs), a junior welterweight contender from Capitol Heights, Maryland, was winning a competitive fight on all three scorecards when he dropped Barthelemy with a right hook early in the sixth round. Cuba’s Barthelemy reached his feet before referee Shada Murdaugh’s count reached five and appeared to respond affirmatively to Murdaugh’s commands.
Much to Barthelemy’s dismay, Murdaugh still stopped their fight 50 seconds into the sixth round. Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC), a two-weight world champion who immediately protested the stoppage, lost inside the distance for the first time in his 13-year pro career.
Judges John McKaie (48-47), Kevin Morgan (49-46) and Robin Taylor (49-46) all had Russell ahead through five rounds of a scheduled 10-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.