Stevenson's audience shrinks

Certainly the deal that adviser Al Haymon secured for light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson to leave HBO and go to rival Showtime for his title defense against Andrzej Fonfara last Saturday night paid him more money than had he stayed at HBO for the fight.

However, while Stevenson's shaky decision win -- he scored two knockdowns but also got dropped and was fading down the stretch -- was a bit more lucrative because he switched networks (and also got away from a fall showdown with titleholder Sergey Kovalev) he cost himself a lot of visibility.

According to Nielsen, the fight with Fonfara drew an average audience of 672,000 viewers for the live, first-time airing on Showtime (while the entire tripleheader telecast averaged 476,000 viewers). Stevenson-Fonfara peaked at 800,000 viewers.

Stevenson's previous fight, a Nov. 30 appearance on HBO in which he stopped mandatory challenger Tony Bellew in the sixth round, dwarfed his Showtime debut.

The November fight drew an average audience of 1.3 million viewers on HBO. That is a whopping 48.3 percent decline in viewership from one Stevenson fight to the next in which he was facing a similar kind of opponent in a main event in Canada.

While HBO is in several million more homes than Showtime -- meaning higher viewership is expected -- a nearly 50 percent decline is huge. Perhaps the drop off can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that the fight was on Memorial Day weekend and was up against Game 3 of the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers NBA playoff series. Then again, Stevenson-Bellew was on Thanksgiving weekend and up against a big-time college football game, Texas A&M against Missouri.