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Boxing’s return to ESPN not a ratings hit

If you were hoping for starved sports fans to tune in on Tuesday, they didn’t.

Shakur Stevenson v Felix Caraballo Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Many were hoping that with live sports still essentially on hiatus, boxing could pull some big numbers on Tuesday night when the sport returned to ESPN airwaves with the first live U.S. card since mid-March.

It did not.

The Shakur Stevenson-headlined card averaged 397,000 viewers on Tuesday night, with a peak of 609,000.

Needless to say, this is not very encouraging, and there’s really no good way you can spin it, other than the fact that relatively speaking, their male 18-49 demographic was decent, but the total viewers are so low that it’s hard to even make much of that.

The card was frankly abysmal in terms of quality matchups, and the upcoming Top Rank shows on the schedule aren’t a whole lot better. Some are a bit better, mind you, but they also have no marquee names. Andrew Moloney vs Joshua Franco on June 23 might be a pretty decent fight, but do you think people are going to tune in in droves for that if they stayed away this badly?

I realize that in the comments discussions on the site, I was sort of low man on ratings expectations for boxing’s return to ESPN, with many figuring the sport would get a boost just by existing right now. But in all candor, even I didn’t expect the numbers to come in this low.

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