A seven-figure audience tuned in Saturday night for what evolved into a compelling clash between heavily favored Vasiliy Lomachenko and Richard Commey.
According to viewership figures released by Nielsen Media Research, the 12-round Lomachenko-Commey contest attracted an average audience of 1,129,000 viewers and a peak audience of 1,243,000 for ESPN, which televised their main event from Madison Square Garden in New York. Handicappers consistently listed Lomachenko as a 10-1 favorite over Commey, a former IBF lightweight champion who got up from a seventh-round knockdown and made their fight competitive and entertaining.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs), who often stood his ground and traded with Commey, still won their bout by wide distances on all three scorecards (119-108, 119-108 and 117-110). Ghana’s Commey (30-4, 27 KOs) redeemed himself by exhibiting considerable courage two years after Teofimo Lopez stopped him in the second round of their December 2019 fight for Commey’s 135-pound championship at Madison Square Garden.
ESPN’s entire telecast, which included four fights, was watched by an average audience of 1,019,000. Nielsen’s numbers include only those that watched on ESPN’s linear channel, not ESPN+, which has an ever-growing subscriber base, or ESPN Deportes, both of which offered the card live as well.
The opener of ESPN’s four-bout broadcast, Nico Ali Walsh-Reyes Sanchez, drew a higher average audience than Lomachenko-Commey. That total – 1,147,000 – was boosted, however, by a strong lead-in, ESPN’s live coverage of college football’s Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Ali Walsh, the 21-year-old grandson of Muhammad Ali, improved to 3-0 when he defeated Sanchez by majority decision in a four-round middleweight match. Ali Walsh (3-0, 2 KOs), a senior at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, beat Sanchez (6-1, 2 KOs), of Topeka, Kansas, on two scorecards (40-36, 39-37, 38-38).
The fight after Ali Walsh’s victory, lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis’ second-round stoppage of Jose Zaragoza (8-4-1, 2 KOs), averaged 823,000 viewers. The 22-year-old Davis (4-0, 3 KOs), of Norfolk, Virginia, knocked out Zaragoza with a perfectly placed left hand to the body.
The co-feature Saturday night, heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson’s second-round TKO of Oleksandr Teslenko, drew an average audience of 939,000.
A right hand by Anderson (11-0, 11 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, sent Teslenko to the canvas in the second round. Teslenko reached his feet before referee Danny Schiavone reached the count of 10, but Schiavone stopped their scheduled eight-rounder because Teslenko didn’t look like he should continue.
Later Saturday night, Showtime’s telecast of a live tripleheader that featured Nonito Donaire drew about as well as could’ve been expected based on the extremely late start time for the main event.
Donaire’s fourth-round knockout of fellow Filipino Reymart Gaballo was watched by an average of 187,000.
The Donaire-Gaballo bout didn’t begin until 1:13 a.m. ET. The 39-year-old Donaire (42-6, 28 KOs) knocked out the previously unbeaten Gaballo (24-1, 20 KOs), the mandatory challenger for Donaire’s WBC bantamweight title, with a right hand to the body.
The co-feature of Showtime’s broadcast, Cody Crowley-Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, drew a peak viewership of 215,000.
That 10-round welterweight bout began at 12:11 a.m. ET. Crowley (20-0, 9 KOs), a southpaw from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, got up from a second-round knockdown and thoroughly out-boxed Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov (18-1, 10 KOs) to win a unanimous decision (98-91, 97-92, 95-94).
Nielsen’s numbers for Showtime include only those that watched live on that premium cable channel as well. Like ESPN+, ViacomCBS, which owns Showtime and BoxingScene.com, does not release its streaming numbers, which account for a significant number of viewers.
As a premium network, Showtime has slightly less than a third the number of subscribers as ESPN, a basic cable channel.
DAZN, which streamed cards from Russia and England on Saturday, doesn’t release its streaming numbers, either, nor are those figures tracked by Nielsen.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.