Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reports that the HBO numbers are in for Saturday night's fight between Sebastian Zbik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, and the fight set a high mark for Boxing After Dark ratings in the last four years.
1.5 million viewers tuned in to see the young Chavez win his first trinket against Zbik, and that number has to be seen as part boxing audience, and other than that, pretty much all Chavez. Zbik has no name in America, and the co-feature between Mikey Garcia and Rafael Guzman was more or less a non-event, as Garcia is still a building prospect/contender and Guzman was a late sub.
The number doesn't at all surprise me. When people wondered why Chavez was picked up by HBO, this was what we said was the obvious reason. His fanbase is enormous, dedicated, and enthusiastic. They've paid hard earned cash dollars to watch him fight lesser opponents than Zbik, and his HBO debut was an event for many. He's going to draw viewers, period.
Compared to would-be Mexican boxing rival Saul Alvarez, Chavez is looking like a strong TV attraction in the States right now. Both do big numbers in Mexico, but this fight for Chavez pretty well dwarfed the numbers Alvarez did in March with Matthew Hatton, which was reported as 1.4 million live viewers, but was actually about 920,000. We'll see if this number was fluffed, too, but the 1.5 mil for Chavez is honestly only a hair more than I expected it would be. The name value has transferred from father to son, even if the overall skills package has not.