Errol Spence’s victory Sunday to clinch a welterweight title shot is a big deal among devout boxing fans, and it became an ever better-known news item to a massive number of mainstream sports followers.
Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions reported Monday that the NBC-televised sixth-round knockout by Spence of Italian Leonard Bundu in Coney Island, N.Y., drew a staggering 4.6 overnight rating that translates to 6 million viewers.
“Haymon was thrilled — that’s the biggest audience for PBC, day or night,” fight promoter Lou DiBella said Monday.
Spence’s triumph rode the massive coattails of NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team winning the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.
What excited PBC officials so was that the fight kept about 75% of the viewers.
“The viewers could have departed, but they went from an excited event in Rio to an electric event at Brooklyn,” PBC spokesman Tim Smith said of the DiBella-promoted card that took place with an estimated 4,000 fans at an outdoor venue.
“And Spence is spectacular, which didn’t hurt.”
Texas’ Spence, a 2012 Olympian, is now 21-0 with 18 knockouts, and he’s earned the right to next fight for the International Boxing Federation welterweight title. Bundu had never previously been knocked down.
England’s Kell Brook, the unbeaten IBF champion, will fight three-belt middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin on Sept. 10 in England and then decide whether to return to welterweight or vacate the title.
“Obviously, there was a great lead-in with the basketball, but there’s great momentum in the sport, and it was an outstanding crowd in the great venue that helped maintain it,” DiBella said. “The sport’s on a nice roll, and it’s continuing.”
DiBella also promoted entertaining main events at Barclays Center in Brooklyn this summer between welterweight champion Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, and Carl Frampton’s upset of Los Angeles’ Leo Santa Cruz in July — which also fared well in ratings.
“The idea that Errol Spence, who’s unquestionably an emerging star, was seen by 6 million people, that’s amazing,” DiBella said. “A young star fighting in this venue — all these people screaming in Coney Island — also had a lot to do with keeping those people riveted.”