Keith "One Time" Thurman referred to himself as "Two-Time" after winning his second alphabet title in Saturday's 12-round split decision over Danny Garcia. The latest ratings results have solidified his industry stance as Mr. Primetime.
The unbeaten Floridian is now the proud owner of the three highest-rated primetime boxing telecasts since the inception of Premier Boxing Champions. The latest rating win was a celebrated victory all around. as his welterweight title unification clash with Garcia helped bring free-to-air CBS a ratings win among the four major networks Saturday evening. Their bout - which aired live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. New York - enjoyed a 2.2 overnight rating, up from the 1.8 rating pulled in for Thurman's win over Shawn Porter last June, which took place at the same venue, network and time slot.
Early projections have the time slot assigned to Thurman-Garcia averaging 3.15 million viewers. With such ratings tending to trend upwards, there stands a chance that the bout will surpass Thurman's win over Robert Guerrero - in the inaugural installment of PBC, which aired live on NBC in March '15 - as the highest rated primetime network telecast of the 21st century.
Final ratings and peak viewership are expected to be released through Nielsen Media Research on Tuesday morning.
The highly anticipated welterweight clash figured to be a well-viewed event, as both boxers have established themselves as household draws. In addition to Thurman's televised success, Garcia has provided quality viewership across the dial - NBC, Showtime, ESPN, Spike TV and now on CBS. His own 12-round win over Guerrero last January kicked off the PBC on Fox TV series, remaining the network's highest-rated installment among the four primetime shows that have aired in the 13-plus month period/
Saturday's bout edged out reruns on NBC and Fox, as well as live NBA coverage of the Los Angeles Clippers versus the Chicago Bulls. It was a much needed turnaround for boxing from a week ago, when Deontay Wilder's 5th round knockout of Gerald Washington finished last among the four major networks as the unbeaten heavyweight titlist remains a distant third to Thurman and Garcia - fourth if you want to add former four-division titlist Adrien Broner - when it comes to bringing in the home viewers.
The contest was CBS's second primetime entry in the past nine months - both involving Thurman - after having not featured boxing in that capacity since Leon Spinks shocked the world with an upset split decision win over Muhammad Ali to win the World heavyweight championship in their first fight in Feb. 1978. The affair was watched in more than 70 million televised homes.
It's highly unlikely that any boxing event in the 21st century will arrive at that stage, but this past weekend's viewership remains a positive step in the right direction in what has so far been a huge comeback year for the sport.