Top Rank on ESPN August 18 Edition Averages 686k Viewers

While not a ratings blockbuster, the latest installment of Top Rank on ESPN at least provided plenty of entertainment along with reversing a viewership trend in the right direction.

The August 18 edition of the series—topped by Bryant Jennings climbing off the canvas to eventually stop Alexander Dimitrenko in nine rounds in Atlantic City, New Jersey—averaged 686,000 viewers over the course of the near two-hour telecast, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It hardly rates in the top moments of the series' brief history, but is the best performing telecast since the May 12 edition that saw Vasyl Lomachenko become a three-division titlist following his stoppage win over Jorge Linares.

Of course, it helps that Lomachenko-Linares came with a massive promotion in addition to being a high-profile matchup on its own. Jennings-Dimitrenko was never going to command that level of attention, but those involved in the August 18 show can take comfort in knowing the telecast performed 32% better than its previous installment, when Regis Prograis' homecoming title defense—an 8th round stoppage of Juan Jose Velasco on July 14 in New Orleans—drew just 518,000 viewers.

The July 14 card was the final leg of three straight weeks of airtime for the Top Rank on ESPN series. This most recent entry came with a healthy local promotion but had little support in terms of lead-in programming, airing after a primetime entry of the Little League World series which traditionally performs better on Sundays when more is at stake than the Saturday batch of games.

While both legs of the August 18 show—which also included Jesse Hart's 3rd round knockout of overmatched Mike Gavronski—lacked in overall significance, each delivered in entertainment value.

Hart fought with the determination of a boxer eager to move closer towards a title fight rematch with his lone conqueror, Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez as he's now won three straight—all by knockout—since coming up just short in his spirited bid last September. In his latest outing, he never gave Gavronski a chance to get in the fight, dominating early before sending him to the canvas twice in round three to close the show.

Jennings made things a lot harder than those closest to him would have preferred, but perhaps gained more fans as a result.

The Philly-bred heavyweight—whose lone losses came to then-World champion Wladimir Klitschko in April '15 and then-unbeaten Luis Ortiz later that year—found himself in an unfamiliar position, on the canvas when a right hand put him down in round four of the evening's main event. He recovered and turned the tide within that very round, fending off the best of whatever the visiting Dimitrenko had left before dropping him three times between rounds eight and nine to secure the TKO win.

It wasn't as scripted, but in the end Jennings has now won five straight since returning to the ring one year ago following a forced 20-month hiatus due to a contractual dispute with former promoter Gary Shaw.

For those who criticized the August 18 show for lacking in overall significance, this week's show figures to whet the appetite of most fans. Saturday's edition—live from Glendale, Arizona—features major title fights in both legs of the televised doubleheader. Feel-good story Raymundo Beltran (35-7-1, 21KOs) makes the first defense of his lightweight strap as he faces former 130-pound titlist Jose Pedraza (24-1, 12KOs) in the evening's main event. Opening the show, the always entertaining Isaac Dogboe (19-0, 13KOs) defends his super bantamweight belt for the first time as he faces Japan's Hidenori Otake (31-2-3, 14KOs), who seeks a title in his second try.

Beltran and Dogboe both won their titles live on ESPN; Beltran outpointed Paulus Moses for a vacant belt this past February, while Dogboe overcame an opening round knockdown to halt and dethrone previously unbeaten titlist Jesse Magdaleno in 11 rounds this past April in Philadelphia.

Share this story