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Solid numbers for PBC on ESPN debut

Although the debut of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN Saturday night fell a little below network expectations, the main event -- welterweight titlist Keith Thurman’s eighth-round knockout of former titleholder Luis Collazo at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida -- averaged 999,000 viewers and peaked at nearly 1.2 million, according to the network.

The two-hour doubleheader, which also included junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson’s come-from-behind ninth-round knockout of hot prospect Tony Harrison, averaged 799,000 viewers overall.

The telecast was the most-watched boxing broadcast across any ESPN network in 2015, blowing away the year’s average viewership (381,000) for ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, the series which PBC on ESPN replaced.

The card was the first of a two-year deal between ESPN and PBC. The second card will take place on Aug. 1 (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and will be headlined by Danny Garcia, the junior welterweight world champion, who is moving up in weight, taking on former titlist Paulie Malignaggi in a 12-round welterweight contest. In the opener, middleweight titlist Daniel Jacobs will defend his belt against former junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Mora.