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Canelo vs Kirkland does highest HBO boxing rating since 2006

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Canelo Alvarez delivered a huge audience on HBO this past weekend, doing HBO's best numbers in nine years.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It's already been a strong year for HBO's boxing numbers, and the news keeps getting better. Last Saturday's fight between Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland delivered the best rating that HBO has seen since Antonio Tarver vs Bernard Hopkins in 2006, delivering a peak of 2.296 million viewers, and an average of 2.146 million for the action-packed three-round brawl.

Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KO) dropped Kirkland (32-2, 28 KO) once in the opening round and twice in the third, scoring a KO of the Year contender on a vicious right hand to put the fight away. He largely dominated the action against Kirkland, who was able to pressure and throw punches, forcing Canelo to let his hands go to keep Kirkland off of him. He didn't keep him off of him that much, but he did completely take the venom out of his bite, and did knock him out.

This comes on the heels of the announcement that Mayweather-Pacquiao, which HBO was joint producer of, did record-smashing PPV numbers, and just two weeks after the April 26 fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Bryant Jennings, which did tremendous numbers that were at the time the best on HBO since 2012.

And while there's no doubt that this fight was aided in part by the replay of the Mayweather-Pacquiao event, it can't be denied that Alvarez himself is a major ratings draw, and the 31,588 who attended at Minute Maid Park would seem to attest to his widespread appeal. And it may also be arguable that the co-feature between Frankie Gomez and Humberto Soto being canceled wound up a help to the numbers in this specific way, as viewers were able to go right from the very strong lead-in replay into the much-hyped main event appearance of a superstar fighter, with no buffer other than Michael.