By Jeff Newman: WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) didn’t bring in a lot of viewers in his fight against Luis Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) last night on Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN. The fight averaged only 799,000 viewers with a peak of 1.1 million viewers. While those numbers weren’t totally bad, they were far less than what was expected of them.
It’s an improvement over the amount of viewers the ESPN Friday Night Fights were averaging at a little over 400,000 viewers, but that’s not saying much because those fights weren’t bringing in monster ratings.
Thurman won the fight by an 8th round TKO after Collazo, 34, failed to come out for the 8th round. Getting more people to be interested in the Thurman vs. Collazo fight was an impossible task from the beginning because wasn’t a compelling match-up on paper. Collazo has been the invisible man since he lost his WBA welterweight title in 2007 in a robbery against Ricky Hatton. Collazo resurfaced last year in beating Victor Ortiz, and then following that up with a one-sided 12 round decision loss to Amir Khan. But the fact of the matter if Collazo didn’t have the fan base to bring in many fans, and neither did Thurman. Having the fight staged on ESPN is fine, but it requires better known fighters to bring in the ratings, and neither of these guys are known to the casual boxing fans. For a fight like Thurman-Collazo, it really needed to be staged on CBS or NBC if they wanted to bring in better ratings, because the fight wasn’t interesting enough to be seen by millions of fans.
One thing that worked against the Thurman vs. Collazo fight was it was competing with NASCAR and UFC on the same night, both of which brought in superior stats. If you’re going to compete with those sports, you’ve got to have an interesting fight. I’m sure that the fans that did pop in briefly to see the action, were possibly turned off by the constant movement that Thurman used in the fight. He moved far too much for what was needed to beat a non-puncher like Collazo, and it really ruined the drama of the fight.
When you have a fight on free TV like ESPN, you expect better numbers than the fight brought in. Had this been on Showtime, it would be understandable that the numbers for the Thurman-Collazo fight weren’t huge, because a lot of boxing fans don’t subscribe to Showtime. But with free TV like ESPN, you’ve got to be able to do better numbers than that.
Al Haymon, the adviser for Thurman, is going to need to do a better job in putting fights together if he wants to attract larger audiences on ESPN, CBS or NBC. He’s got a card coming up next month between Danny Garcia and Paulie Malignaggi on Premier Boxing Champions, and that fight promises to be a duplicate of this one in terms of low ratings. It’s a bad match-up on paper, and few fans are interested in the fight, which shapes up to be a mismatch.