This past Saturday Jean Pascal was able to take home a wide decision win over Canadian rival Lucian Bute in front of a packed crowd of over 20,000 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The fight was undoubtedly one of the biggest in the history of Canadian boxing (if not the biggest), but it didn't quite register as much with everyone else.
According to Boxing Scene's Jake Donovan, the live broadcast drew an average of around 877,000 viewers, the lowest of any HBO World Championship Boxing show in over 13 months. The main event averaged 982,000, topping out at about 1.13 million.
The main event was a largely middling affair with both men standing on the outside until Pascal would randomly erupt for several punches, often stealing the round in the process. Bute's greatest moment came in the final round when he appeared to hurt Pascal with shots along the ropes, but it was far too little, too late.
However, as mediocre as Pacal - Bute was, it cannot take sole responsibility for the ratings. The other televised fight was between heavyweights Mike Perez and Carlos Takam, and one would have been forgiven for having fallen asleep during the first half of it and miss the main event by accident. Mercifully, the second half of the fight was solid as Perez suffered a cut and Takam came on strong. But the damage was likely done by that point, and casual fans would have surely changed the channel by then.
Is HBO disappointed by lackluster ratings for this show? Probably not. Even in their primes, Pascal and Bute were never big names in America, and this was more of a Loser Leaves Town type of match. Pascal gets to move on to another big fight while Bute remains in the doldrums of neither contending or retiring. This was about developing an opponent for guys like Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson, and Sergey Kovalev in the future. And, to that end, it has to be considered a success.