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Was The “Mayweather” Doc on CBS Really Such a Disappointment?

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You might have heard, if you’re the Twittering type, that the “Mayweather” doc on CBS, done by Ross Greenburg, stank out the joint. Now, I thought it was just fine, from an artistic standpoint, even if, I admit, I preferred the doc that ran April 3, “30 Days in May,” which had more of a “reality TV” feel to it.

Now, when I read the opinions of some that it was a ratings dog, I poked around, looking to get a counterpunch perspective. A source at Showtime, who didn’t wish to go on the record for attribution, offered up some points and stats and context which might flesh out the whole deal a bit more.

“Mayweather” attracted a little more than 1.7M viewers, not including DVR delayed viewings, which will probably increase the rating when those numbers become available later in the week, I was told.  The “Mayweather” rating was more 50% higher than the rating for Pacquiao-Mosley Fight Camp 360, which aired in same time slot (Saturday 8 pm) the week before that fight.  FC 360 attracted 1.1M viewers in that time slot.

The “Mayweather” rating was only 20% less than the rating for entertainment programming that aired in the same slot the prior week and was similar to the ratings that NBC and ABC did in the 8 and 9 pm slots.

Showtime, I was told,  didn’t necessarily expect a one-off special to generate the same rating as the weekly entertainment programming that consistently airs in that time slot – but the fact that viewership was 50% better than for Pacquiao-Mosley, and the rating was in the ballpark of the entertainment programming that aired in the same slot the prior week and what NBC and ABC did in the 8 and 9 pm slots – means they weren’t displeased with the program, my source told me.

The fact that nearly 2M people watched the special is a huge promotional benefit, to the Showtime crew.   By way of context, viewership for the premieres of 24/7 has generally been around 400-500K – meaning that the promotional reach of “Mayweather” was roughly 4X as much as a 24/7 episode, which had been the biggest platform used to promote PPV fights.

The bottom line is that the CBS special did exactly what they intended it to day, the source told me…it exposed the PPV to a bigger audience (and a much different demographic) than otherwise available to Showtime or HBO.

“I would love it if boxing programming were able to generate comparable ratings to mainstream entertainment programming, but that’s not where the sport of boxing is today,” the source explained to me. “Expecting that – from Mayweather or anyone else – is unrealistic.  Building the sport’s popularity among the general market and non-sports fans is a process, and it’s a process that we are pursuing very aggressively.”

So there ya go…As I Tweeted after I started hearing that the Greenburg doc got TKO’d, there are so many options in on-screen entertainment, so it behooves us to remember that a buzz-y show like “Mad Men” only gets something like 3.4 million or fewer viewers. And, “Mayweather” almost beat “Smash” at 8 PM (1.89 to 1.73 million), to look on the brighter side. (Al Bernstein, are you still on the “Smash” bus? Me and the wife hopped off after episode two, season two….)

No, seriously, the show didn’t blow the roof off, but sometimes it feels like people root around for the bad news and almost gleefully report it. Maybe they can at least pretend not to savor the schadenfreude so much…Because I think it’s fair to say that all of us who cover the sport and work to put programming on would like the sport’s popularity to increase. I’m not telling or asking anyone to be a Prozacified cheerleader, blind to bad news…but could they consider not being so quick to reflexively crap on the sport so much of the time?

 

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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