Stevenson vs. Fonfara brings in poor ratings on Showtime, only 672K viewers

By Boxing News - 05/28/2014 - Comments

By Jim Dower: WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson’s title defense against #1 WBO, #3 WBC Andrzej Fonfara (25-3, 15 KO’s) brought in disappointing ratings on Showtime last Saturday night. Stevenson, 36, won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores of 116-109, 115-110, and 115-110 in a less than impressive performance from him. But the fight brought in just 672,000 viewers on Showtime, according to Nielson’s ratings.

The triple-header averaged 476,000 viewers with a high of 800K viewers for the Stevenson-Fonfara fight during the peak. If you look at the 672,000 for the Stevenson-Fonfara fight and compare it to the 1.3 million viewers that Stevenson’s previous fight against Britain’s Tony Bellew brought in last November on HBO, you can see that Stevenson’s rating dropped off dramatically from that fight. Now the question is was it due to Stevenson’s opponent Fonfara or was it because of Showtime having less viewers than HBO?

Many boxers bring in excellent numbers on Showtime, so it can’t be just because Showtime’s subscriber base is smaller than HBO. It’s got to be because boxing fans weren’t excited about seeing Stevenson fight Fonfara. Fans wanted to see Stevenson fight WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, but instead of taking that fight, which was a high risk one for Kovalev to say the least, he decided to sign with adviser/manager Al Haymon, who then brought him over to Showtime. The move perhaps will save Stevenson from being knocked out by Kovalev in the future, but it likely also resulted in fans being less than happy with Stevenson. The fans might have showed their displeasure at seeing him taking a relatively safe fight against Fonfara by not tuning in.

Stevenson’s drop off in viewers, which was close to 50%, has to be seen as an area of concern if not for him then for Showtime. They can’t afford to be wasting valuable television time televising a fighter who doesn’t bring in ratings. It’s a harsh business and if the television viewers aren’t interested in seeing Stevenson’s fights on their network, then it’s quite possible that Showtime could potentially discontinue televising his fights. HBO stopped airing the Klitschko brother’s fights on a regular basis, and it’s quite possible that Showtime could do the same unless Stevenson’s ratings go up in the future with Showtime.

Stevenson is expected to fight a unification fight against IBF/WBA light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in his next fight late this year. That fight should bring in good ratings just due to Hopkins being televised. If Stevenson wins that fight, he’ll be right back to where he was before with a lot of no named opposition for him to fight at 175 and the likelihood that his fights will bring in dismal ratings on Showtime.

Stevenson can increase his popularity by taking the Kovalev fight, but the risk would be high for Stevenson because he struggled badly against Fonfara last Saturday in getting knocked down in the 9th round. If a limited fighter like Fonfara was able to knock Stevenson down, then it’s quite possible that Kovalev will knock Stevenson out fairly quickly if that fight happens.

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