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Bradley-Vargas averages 1.121 million viewers on HBO

Timothy BradleyBy Dan Ambrose: Last Saturday’s clash between Tim Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs) and Jessie Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) at 147lbs, brought in an average of 1.21 million viewers on HBO Championship Boxing, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN. The fight, which took place at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, peaked at a high of 1.228 million, it at No.9 in terms of the most viewed fight on HBO in 2015.

While that’s not exactly great, it’s still not bad considering how poor the fight was. It was a bad fight on paper coming into last Saturday, and the fight itself was a real disappointment until Vargas briefly hurt Bradley in the 12th round.

Even that was a disappointment with the referee Pat Russell jumping in and halting the fight 10 seconds early while Bradley was trying to survive. You can compare that with a home run hitter launching a ball heading towards the upper deck in the 9th inning only to see the game suddenly called. The premature stoppage made the fight even worse than it already was.

Bradley won the fight by the scores of 115-112, 116-112 and 117-111. As bad as Vargas had looked in his recent fights against Antonio DeMarco, Anton Novikov and Khabib Allakhverdiev, it’s not surprising that the fight wasn’t competitive. Vargas looked terrible in his last three fights, and he appears to be little more than a paper champion at 140 in holding down the 140lb title. Their promoter Bob Arum could have done much better than this when matching Bradley up against someone. Arum could have matched him against Brandon Rios, who would have at least made it interesting, but instead he put him with Vargas, who failed to let his hands go for 11 rounds of the fight.

Bradley brought in better ratings with the Vargas fight than he did in his bout last year in December against Argentinian Diego Chaves. That fight brought in an average of 966,000 viewers on HBO. It’s not surprising that the Bradley-Chaves fight did so poorly because Chaves isn’t well known. But the fact that Vargas did only a little better tells you that Vargas isn’t known either by casual boxing fans.

The top fight in 2015 on regular HBO was the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. James Kirkland mismatch on May 9th, which brought in 2.146 million viewers. It wasn’t a great match-up, but it brought in good numbers.

One fighter who is quickly rising in popularity on HBO is Gennady Golovkin, who brought in 1.38 million viewers for his fight against Willie Monroe Jr. last May. If Golovkin can continue to bring in bigger and bigger numbers each time he fights on HBO, it won’t matter if Miguel Cotto and Canelo keep steering around him. Golovkin will wind up incredibly popular without them.

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