As Adonis Stevenson's light heavyweight championship reign has devolved into a joke, so too has his televised ratings.
The latest sign of how insignificant his once-promising career has become surfaced in the form of his June 3 rematch with Andrzej Fonfara. The championship bout - in which Stevenson scored a 2nd round stoppage in their Showtime-televised main event live from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada - drew an average just 390,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Fittingly, the poor ratings reflect the lack of support to be found among the majority of boxing fans and media alike who deemed the rematch largely unnecessary. The average was more than 40% lower than their first fight three years ago almost to the day, with both boxers hitting the deck before Stevenson prevailed by unanimous decision in a far more competitive affair in his first headlining bout out Showtime after having been previously showcased on HBO.
Missing from the rematch - aside from any general interest - was that same competitive fighting spirit from its predecessor. Fonfara has since suffered a 1st round knockout loss to Joe Smith Jr. last June and struggled mightily in a 10th round stoppage of a badly faded Chad Dawson earlier this year in being given a second shot at Stevenson and a world title. The Chicago-based Polish contender was a washed shell of his former self, offering little resistance as Stevenson struck early, scoring an opening round knockdown and going left-hand crazy before Fonfara's trainer Virgil Hunter requested a mercy stoppage less than a minute into round two.
With the win, Stevenson (29-1, 24KOs) registered the eighth successful defense of the World light heavyweight championship he claimed four years ago - the anniversary of his 1st round knockout of Dawson coming this Thursday, in fact. That very win was among a four-win campaign - all by knockout - in 2013 in being hailed by many outlets as Fighter of the Year.
He was also being groomed for a light heavyweight unification clash with then-unbeaten titlist Sergey Kovalev, as both were being regularly showcased by HBO at the time. Those plans were lit and torched by Stevenson, who decided to jump ship and sign with adviser Al Haymon, taking his services to Showtime, CBS and Spike TV during his three years with the high-powered boxing mogul.
His once rabid viewing fan base hasn't quite followed, going from regularly pulling in well north of one million viewers to present-day form, where the industry simply couldn't care less about his next move if it doesn't involve a quality opponent in the opposite corner. His lone bout to match his strong HBO ratings came in the very first edition of Premier Boxing Champions on CBS, drawing 1.6 million viewers during a Saturday matinee edition for a 12-round win over Sakio Bika atop a telecast that was packaged with the network's NCAA college basketball Final Four coverage.
The rematch with Fonfara was just his third fight since the network appearance, fighting twice on Spike TV including a highlight reel 4th round knockout of then-Top 10 contender Thomas Williams Jr. last July. That bout drew 531,000 viewers, only a marginal improvement from the network's preceding PBC telecast headlined by Andre Dirrell's points win over Blake Capparello the previous April.
Saturday's win at least sets up what should be a meaningful test for Stevenson's next ring appearance, assuming current sanctioning body rulings are enforced. Waiting in the wings is his unbeaten longtime mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez, who opened the Showtime-aired light heavyweight doubleheader with a dominant 12-round win over former champ Jean Pascal. The crossroads clash averaged 370,000 viewers, more than doubling his previous network appearance when he outpointed Isaac Chilemba in their Nov. '15 title eliminator on a show that didn't air until 11:00pm ET.