This past Saturday's fight between Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa was a ratings hit for HBO. Dan Rafael is reporting, via Nielsen Media Research, viewership averaged over 1.2 million and peaked at nearly 1.3 million.
That's good enough for the second place thus far in 2014, behind Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Bryan Vera which averaged 1.39 million viewers back in March, also on HBO. In fact, HBO has the top eight most watched fights this year. By comparison, Showtime's recent slugfest between Robert Guerrero and Yoshihiro Kamegai did just 614,000 viewers.
Let's step back a bit: We're talking about a lightweight fight between two guys with questionable name value. Questionable might even be generous when you talk about Terence Crawford, who was fighting for just the third time on HBO. And as for Gamboa, is he really a "name" outside of the #boxingheads?
Heavyweights used to be boxing's bread and butter. Ask Joe Blow for a list of the best boxers of all time, and you're going to get a lot of big men. Hard core fans enjoy a good fight regardless of weight, but historically heavyweights have garnered the mainstream's attention. But, is the tide turning?
Do these ratings signal a shift in the average viewer's desire to watch smaller guys beat one another senseless? Or, is it more that there's a lack of heavyweight fights (good or bad), and fight fans--even casual ones--need to get their fix?