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Canelo-Kirkland averages 2.146 million viewers for HBO

Canelo Alvarez James Kirkland(Photo Credit:Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy/Golden Boy via Getty Images) By Dan Ambrose: HBO hit a homerun with last Saturday’s match-up between junior middleweights Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 KOs) and James Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) in their catch-weight at 155 pounds at the Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.

The Canelo-Kirkland fight brought in a peak of 2.296 million viewers with an average of 2.146 million, making it the No.1 fight on regular HBO since the 2006 bout between Bernard Hopkins and Antonio Tarver.

The actual Alvarez vs. Kirkland fight turned out to be a mismatch unfortunately with Alvarez knocking the 31-year-old Kirkland down three times en route to stopping him in the 3rd round. But it’s not a surprise that the fight was a mismatch because this was a showcase fight for the 24-year-old Canelo. In other words, it was a fight to make Canelo look good.

It wasn’t meant to be a competitive one where he had a chance to lose. If Golden Boy Promotions wanted a competitive fight where the outcome wasn’t predetermined, they would have matched Canelo against Gennady Golovkin, Erislandy Lara, the Charlo brothers or Demetrius Andrade. Those would be very tough fights for Canelo, and he likely wouldn’t have been able to do to them what he was able to do the ring rusty Kirkland, who hadn’t fought in almost two years before last Saturday.

“Per Nielsen, Canelo-Kirkland averaged 2.146M viewers for live, first-time airing on HBO boxing. It peaked at 2.296M,” Dan Rafael said on his twitter. “Canelo-Kirkland viewership is huge relative to recent years. It’s HBO boxing’s top-performing fight since Hopkins-Tarver did 2.46M in ’06. I’d say HBOboxing is having tremendous year considering Canelo-Kirkland drew 2.146M viewers & Klitschko-Jennings did 1.637M 2 weeks before.”

The surprising thing is that Canelo was able to bring in huge ratings against a C-level opponent who wasn’t known well to the casual boxing fans. The hardcore fans know of Kirkland for what he did many years ago from 2007 to 2009 when he established himself a force to be reckoned with at 154. But Kirkland really hasn’t done anything since 2009 other than beating a very slow Alfredo Angulo in a tough struggle in 2011 and defeat Top Rank prospect Glen Tapia in 2013. Kirkland had never beaten anyone that you could call a good fighter, and he’d struggled like mad against the likes of Angulo. We also saw Kirkland get annihilated in one round by Nobuhiro Ishida in 2011. So it wasn’t surprising that Canelo was able to destroy Kirkland too. But what was surprising is the amount of fans that tuned in to see the Canelo-Kirkland fight. It suggests that Golden Boy Promotions don’t even need to match Canelo against a good fighter because boxing fans will tune in to see him fight anyway. That’s obviously a gift for Golden Boy because it means that they won’t have to put their golden goose in harm’s way by matching him against Gennady Golovkin unless Canelo himself forces the issue, which thus far he hasn’t done.

“With more than 31,000 people coming to Minute Maid Park and more than 2.1 million tuning in to watch on HBO, Canelo Alvarez is quickly making the leap to the biggest boxing star of the present,” Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions said to ESPN.com. “Given the sizzling, fan-friendly performance in knocking out James Kirkland, attendance and viewership will only continue to soar. Boxing’s future is now.”

It sounds nice, but what doesn’t sound nice is De La Hoya’s announcement that he wouldn’t be matching Canelo up against Golovkin for another two years. What’s magical about waiting two years to make that fight? Given that Golovkin is now 33 and will be 35 by the time that De La Hoya gives the green light to let Canelo fight him, it gives one the thought that De La Hoya is looking to wait Golovkin out until he’s old enough for Canelo to beat him.


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