By: Sean Crose
Boxing hasn’t been doing much in the way of drawing in eyeballs lately. Although it’s been back on television and streaming services since summer, most of the fights have been smaller affairs which have subsequently drawn in smaller audiences. With that in mind, there were high hopes for last weekend’s Teofimo Lopez-Vasyl Lomachenko card, which was aired live Saturday night on ESPN. And, with numbers having been released today, it’s clear the card performed strongly, with nearly 3 million people tuning in for the main event. That’s rather notable considering the main event started close to midnight.
Nielson reports that this past weekend’s main event brought in 2,729,000 viewers. At it’s peak, the fight’s audience was an impressive 2,898,000 viewers. Although those numbers don’t top the ones for Manny Pacquiao’s ESPN-aired 2017 battle with Jeff Horn, no one expected them to, on account of Pacquiao’s position as an international celebrity. Lopez-Lomachenko certainly performed well, however, especially in light of the fact many most likely viewed the broadcast on other ESPN outlets aside from it’s flagship station. Only ESPN’s main channel was taken into consideration when Nielson compiled its numbers, so the actual amount of viewers may well have been much higher than has been recorded. Even more telling, the card was up against other major sporting events.
The fight itself was the most significant boxing match to air on free television in years, not only because the undisputed lightweight championship of the world was at stake, but because of the fighter’s prominent roles in the contemporary fight game. Lomachenko was seen heading into Saturday as being perhaps the pound for pound best fighter on earth, while Lopez was seen as the red hot, brash, heavy handed challenger who might actually knock the king off this throne. And dethrone the king Lopez did.
Although the fight wasn’t a thriller, the bigger, stronger, younger Lopez was able to keep Lomachneko at bay throughout much of the first half of the bout thanks to a strong jab, his own power, and Lomachenko’s own hesitation. The fighter known as Loma was able to get in on his man in the fight’s second half, but it proved to be too little too late. Although the bout was far closer than many claimed it was, Lopez was still able to walk out of the ring the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.
There’s little doubt that Brooklyn’s Lopez appears to be good for the sport of boxing. Outspoken, and cocky, with the skill and power to support his words, the 23 year old makes it clear that he’s willing to take on all comers, including the biggest names available. Should Lopez once again meet an opponent of note on ESPN, the network can most likely expect to bring in more impressive viewership numbers.