Shakur Stevenson helped draw over a million viewers on ESPN in a third straight fight late Friday night.
Nielsen Media Research released figures that estimated an average of 1,097,000 viewers watched Stevenson’s 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Robson Conceicao in ESPN’s main event from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Stevenson’s hometown. Viewership peaked at 1,150,000 for their 130-pound championship match, which the 25-year-old Stevenson won by big margins on all three scorecards (118-108, 117-109, 117-109).
The heavily favored Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) was stripped of his WBC super featherweight and WBO junior lightweight titles Thursday because he came in 1.6 pounds overweight. Brazil’s Coneceicao (17-2, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, could’ve won those two titles because he made weight for the second title shot of his career.
The opener of this two-bout broadcast, Keyshawn Davis’ fifth-round stoppage of Omar Tienda, was watched by an average audience of 1,061,000 and a peak audience of 1,106,000. The 23-year-old Davis (6-0, 5 KOs), a highly touted lightweight prospect from Norfolk, Virginia, dropped Tienda (25-6, 18 KOs) with a right hand 1:15 into the fifth round and became the first fighter to stop Tienda inside the distance in 9½ years once the Mexican veteran reached his feet.
Top Rank’s boxing broadcast began 42 minutes after its scheduled start time of 10 p.m. ET on Friday night because ESPN’s telecast of a college football game between Syracuse and Virginia ran late.
Nielsen’s numbers include just those that watched the Stevenson-Conceicao doubleheader on ESPN’s linear channel in the United States. It was also available via ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes.
ESPN doesn’t report viewership figures from ESPN+. The network’s $10-per-month streaming service isn’t tracked by Nielsen Media Research, either.
Stevenson-Conceicao drew fewer viewers than Stevenson’s previous fight on ESPN, another dominant victory over then-unbeaten Oscar Valdez on April 30. Stevenson-Valdez attracted an average audience of 1,353,000 and a peak audience of 1,440,000 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, but their 130-pound title unification fight was considered a bigger event than Stevenson-Conceicao and it aired on a Saturday night, traditionally a better night for boxing viewership than Friday night.
In the bout before Stevenson unified the WBC and WBO 130-pound crowns versus Valdez, his 10th-round stoppage of Jamel Herring drew an average of 1,233,000 viewers and a peak audience of 1,264,000. Stevenson-Herring also aired on a Saturday night, last October 23, from State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.