Talk to old-timers, and they'll lament on how it used to be. Boxing was on every Friday night, and the whole family used to crowd around the tube and watch bouts, they say.
There hasn't been as much crowding around the tube in the last decade, with boxing being largely absent from network TV, but that trend seems to be reversing. On Dec. 22, NBC ran the Steve Cunningham-Tomasz Adamek heavyweight scrap, put on by promoter Main Events, and fight fans -- and I count myself among them -- rooted for the numbers to come in strong. The numbers are in, and they look good. A source tells us the NBC Fight Night showing did a 1.2 rating, and a 3 share, with 1.6 million folks tuning in to watch, on average, during the event. Perhaps the standout stat from the presentation? At peak viewing time, over 4 million persons tuned in to the bout. I do believe that could be the most viewers for a boxing match this year...
Kathy Duva, who heads up Main Events, told NYFightblog she was "very pleased" with the ratings. This comes on the heels of a Golden Boy bout which ran on CBS that produced similar numbers.
The NBC scrap had a controversial ending, with the Polish heavyweight Adamek leaving the ring at the Sands in Bethlehem, Pa. a split decision winner over the Philadelphian Cunningham, who seemed to get the nod from a majority of viewers who weren't official scorers. The people I watched with, most of whom hadn't seen a fight on a network since the Ali era, were attentive, and seemed to accept that iffy decisions were part of the sport.