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Whyte-Browne averaged 387,000 viewers on HBO

Image: Whyte-Browne averaged 387,000 viewers on HBO

By Tim Royner: Heavyweight Dillian Whyte stopped former WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne in the 6th round last Saturday night on HBO, with the contest being viewed by an average of 387,000 viewers with a peak of 444,000. The fight took place at the O2 Arena in London, England.

The Whyte-Browne replay on HBO later in the evening averaged 427,000 viewers with a peak of 490,000. The numbers weren’t much better on replay despite the fight being shown during peak viewing hours for boxing fans.

To explain why the Whyte vs. Browne fight failed to interest the fans in the States, you would have to point to the lack of televised fights of the two. Whyte and Browne have not been televised in the States. More importantly, it was a bad match-up to begin with. With the hardcore boxing fans familiar with the two, Whyte is seen as the guys Anthony Joshua destroyed in 7 rounds in 2015.

Whyte was also given controversial decision over Dereck Chisora in 2016. Whyte isn’t seen as one of the guys that the U.S fans want to see fight in large numbers. As for Browne, he’s a fighter that held the secondary WBA heavyweight title two years ago after beating Ruslan Chagaev. Browne then tested positive twice for PEDs, and disappeared from the scene.

What the viewing numbers for the Whyte vs. Browne fight suggest is the U.S boxing public wasn’t too thrilled about this fight. There was no competition from Showtime Boxing last Saturday night, so the Whyte-Browne fight didn’t have to deal with fans being pulled in from another network. Unfortunately there wasn’t much interest from the casual fans in watching Whyte and Browne face each other.

Only HBO knows why they chose to televise the Whyte-Browne fight in the first place. It seemed like a move that was doomed for failure the moment the network decided to televise it. If HBO chose to televise the Whyte vs. Browne fight in hopes helping build an eventual rematch between Anthony Joshua and Whyte, I don’t think it worked.

If HBO is going to continue to televise Whyte’s fight in the future, they might want to insist that his promoter Eddie Hearn match him against good fighters like Luis Ortiz or Alexander Povetkin, so that there’s a reason for the network to air his fights. It’s not going to work out well for HBO if Whyte is allowed to fight older, slower, out of shape, inactive fighters like Lucas Browne. That’s not going to interest the U.S boxing fans. They want to see competitive fights between talented fighters. When mismatches like this are televised, it looks bad and they bring in poor ratings.

Whyte, 29, is a good fighter, but it doesn’t help him or the average U.S boxing fan if he’s going to be televised in fights that are not competitive match-ups. Whyte is capable of fighting better opposition than Browne. If HBO is going to continue to have Whyte’s fights piped into he U.S, then they need to set a minimum standard of opponent that they’re willing to televise. At the minimum, Whyte should be facing the likes of Dominic Breazeale, Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, Tony Bellew, Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, David Haye, Adam Kownacki, Bryant Jennings and Kubrat Pulev. At the maximum, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker. Those are all acceptable fights for Whyte.

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