Light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev is as exciting as any fighter out there these days. He’s a knockout machine, so even though Cedric Agnew, Kovalev’s opponent last Saturday night, was totally obscure, not very accomplished as a professional and something like a 38-to-1 underdog, people still tuned in for Kovalev’s first HBO main event.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the live first airing of the fight drew 1.006 million viewers, who saw Kovalev dominate and score three knockdowns en route to a seventh-round knockout.
The audience peaked at 1.048 million viewers, which I view as pretty darn good, especially when you consider that the vast majority of the attention of the sports world was on the NCAA tournament, and the HBO card, which was horrible on paper, did not get all that much publicity.
Kovalev’s main event showed a significant increase on the 742,000 viewers who tuned in for the desultory welterweight fight between Thomas Dulorme and Karim Mayfield that opened the show.
Now just imagine what kind of numbers Kovalev could do if he had an elite opponent? Paging super middleweight champion Andre Ward.