Whether anyone likes it or not, both Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr are huge ratings draws in Mexico, and are turning in good TV numbers in the United States as well.
Fighting on back-to-back weekends this month on HBO, both turned in strong ratings, but in the end, the same amount of viewers, and there's probably a catch that tilts the battle toward Alvarez for the time being.
On November 19, Chavez faced Peter Manfredo Jr in Houston. The fight drew a 2.66 rating for males 18-49, and 1.5 million viewers total.
Two things to keep in mind here: Chavez vs Manfredo was paired with the Pacquiao vs Marquez III replay, meaning it may have received a little bump from that fight airing. Usually, the major pay-per-view replays do pretty decent numbers, and that was a much-talked about fight that entire week.
Also, with the replay taking up some time, Chavez didn't go on until 11:49 p.m. EST.
On November 26, Alvarez faced Kermit Cintron in Mexico. This fight was paired with the Adrien Broner vs Martin Rodriguez fight from Cincinnati, and maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that wasn't a big reason folks tuned in.
Alvarez vs Cintron did the same 1.5 million total viewers that Chavez did, but scored higher among males 18-49, with a 3.09 rating.
So tentatively, I'm going to say that Canelo has made a greater impact to date with U.S. TV ratings. This is no surprise; he also appears to be the marginally bigger star in Mexico for the time being, and he's had a lot more HBO exposure, including main co-feature slots on two Floyd Mayweather Jr pay-per-views. This was Alvarez's third HBO main event, along with the featured spots on the Mayweather shows, and a December 2010 fight with Lovemore N'dou that was aired live (or close to it) on HBO Latino.
But the real story is this: Both of them are proving their worth to the network, which is good and bad. The good is that it means people are watching boxing, whatever the reason.
The bad is that they're drawing these numbers for fights that aren't very interesting, which gives Top Rank and Golden Boy no incentive to go after more competitive or appealing fights on HBO, and if Ken Hershman tries to force them into that, there are enough people interested in both of them, that either promoter could go to independent pay-per-view with Canelo or Chavez in whatever fight they want. The Mexican audience has proven they will buy pay-per-views in enough numbers to make Chavez viable in that format before, and I doubt Alvarez would have any issue selling enough to make the idea worth it for Golden Boy.
Ratings numbers from @TVSportsratings, with our thanks.