The controversial Adrien Broner-Vicente Escobedo fight on Saturday continued a strong run for boxing on HBO. All nine main events on HBO broadcasts in 2012 have exceeded 1 million live viewers, a very positive trend for the sport.
Broner's fifth-round stoppage of Escobedo, which was notable because of Broner's disdain for making the 130-pound super featherweight limit, did a 3.4 rating and drew 1.4 million live viewers. That made it the No. 1 Boxing After Dark show on HBO this year.
It also was watched by the fourth-most viewers in 2012. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who was once ridiculed as an overhyped sensation, holds down the top spot and is tied for second. Chavez's Feb. 4 bout with Marco Antonio Rubio drew 1.9 million live viewers, according to an HBO spokesman. The Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson bout on April 28, which was a rematch of a horrendous pay-per-view flop from 2011, and the June 16 Chavez-Andy Lee match, each attracted 1.6 million live viewers.
The numbers prove one thing: HBO Sports is still, far and away, the dominant force when it comes to boxing on television. The largest live audience for a Showtime fight in 2012 was the June 23 bout in Los Angeles between Victor Ortiz and Josesito Lopez, which drew 740,000 live viewers. That means that every HBO main event in 2012 drew a minimum of 25 percent more viewers than the best Showtime fight.
At a time when boxing repeatedly takes broadsides for being on a downward trend, it's nice to see positive news over the long haul. It's proof if the right fights are made, and promoters make a good faith effort to spread the word, the fans will tune in.