Teofimo Lopez’s return to the win column was one of the highlights of the year on American television.
The Aug. 13 edition of Top Boxing on ESPN featured Brooklyn’s Lopez enjoying a successful junior welterweight debut with a seventh-round technical knockout of Mexico’s Pedro Campa. It peaked at 913,000 viewers, compared to an average television audience of 890,000, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The two-fight 102-minute telecast from Resorts World Casino in Las Vegas averaged 790,000 viewers. The show drew a 0.26 rating among home viewers 18-49, ranked sixth among all cable telecasts on the night and held nearly the entire audience from the previous UFC fight night telecast (797,000 average viewers/0.27 P18-49). , which will run ten minutes late and the high-profile show will begin at 10:10 pm ET.
The ESPN telecast featured junior middleweight Xander Zayas (14-0, 10KOs) who scored a fifth-round TKO of Mexico’s Elias Espadas in a co-fight. The figures above do not include viewers from other ESPN platforms, including ESPN Deportes and streaming service ESPN+, both of which provided live coverage of the televised doubleheader.
Lopez (16-1, 12KOs) returns to ESPN for the first time since his career-best win and fight to date, a twelve-round decision over Vassily Lomachenko in October 2020. The line/WBA/IBF/WBO/WBC “franchise” lightweight championship headlined nearly six hours of telecast, and the main event averaged 2,729,000 to serve as the most-watched fight on American television since Top Rank resumed its ESPN boxing series in July 2017.
Between that win and Saturday’s appearance was Lopez’s only loss, a split decision at the hands of George Cambossos Jr. to end his title reign. The November 27 clash aired live on DAZN from the All Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Sports streaming platforms are not required to report viewership numbers to Nielsen.
The loss was Lopez’s last fight at lightweight and ‘The Takeover’ is now eager to dominate the junior welterweight division.
Saturday’s ratings suggest there is still plenty of interest in the job. The figures are comparable to the June 18 high-profile boxing on ESPN card, which featured Artur Beterbiev’s two-round demolition of Joe Smith for the Lineage/WBC/IBF/WBO light heavyweight championship. The fight averaged 912,000 viewers in the two-fight telecast, which averaged 753,000 viewers, although that was a much higher number than was the case for Saturday’s main event.
Overall, Saturday’s show is the sixth-most-watched boxing telecast on any U.S. platform in 2022 and the fourth-most-watched of ESPN’s boxing events of the year. It also saw an increase of more than 90% from the previous top-rated boxing show on ESPN on July 15, which averaged 413,000 viewers. Arnold Barboza Jr. pinned Danielto Zorrila in the main event, which took place at the junior welterweight limit.
Lopez said he plans to return after the fight on Dec. 10 in New York City. The day coincided with ESPN’s annual tradition immediately following the network’s coverage of the Heisman Trophy ceremony honoring the nation’s top college football player. Barboza (27-0, 10KOs) is the leading candidate to challenge the former lightweight champion.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox