Miguel Berchelt's title-winning performance over Francisco Vargas earlier this year had the misfortune of going head-to-head on television with a strong Showtime telecast, resulting in poor ratings for the occasion and for HBO.
His first title defense came under similar circumstances yet managed to result in a significant ratings spike.
The talented 130-pound beltholder from Mexico delivered a sound boxing lesson in outpointing former titlist Takashi Miura in their July 15 headliner live from The Forum in Inglewood, California. The 12-round affair played to an average of 683,000 viewers, peaking at 729,000, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research.
While not mind-blowing numbers that will prompt HBO brass to organize a Broadway parade, the figure does represent a 37% improvement from Berchelt's aformentioned HBO debut, when his knockout win over Vargas pulled in an average of 497,000 viewers.
Also on the telecast was another 130-pound title fight, as Jezreel Corrales played to an HBO audience for the first time in his career. The charismatic boxer from Panama overcame two knockdowns and several dificult moments to edge veteran spoiler Robinson Castellanos via technical decision as their bout was stopped early in round 10 due to a fight-ending cut produced from a clash of heads.
The bout averaged 629,000 viewers, topping out at 694,000.
Opening the show, Sullivan Barrera punched his way to the top of the list of light heavyweight contenders following a 10-round win over working-class hero Joe Smith Jr. The Miami-based Cuban shook off an opening round knockdown to deliver a strong performance versus Smith, who spent nine rounds fighting through a broken jaw with nary a complaint along the way.
The light heavyweight affair drew an average of 617,000 viewers, with its peak (719,000) nearly matching that of the main event. The night marked Smith's second straight appearance on HBO, seven months after punching the legendary Bernard Hopkins into retirement to cap a banner year for the full-time ditch digger from the Mastic/Shirley section of Long Island, New York.
Oddly his bout came on a night when Long Island's famed and revamped Nassau Coliseum (albeit more than an hour from his hometown) hosted its first major boxing event in 30 years. The Fox-televised tripleheader—topped by Omar Figueroa's 3rd round knockout of Robert Guerrero, whom subsequently announced his retirement—ended early enough as to not directly overlap with the HBO triple.
It also resulted in the poorest performing primetime boxing network telecast in the two-plus years of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) circuit. While peak data was not available as this goes to publish, the 886,000 average viewership was not only below network average for the time slot (8:00-10:00pm ET), but also the only PBC primetime telecast to fail to average at least one million viewers. The show failed to retain event 50% of the Fox audience that tuned in for Deontay Wilder's 5th round knockout of Gerald Washington this past February, which averaged roughly 1.9 million viewers.