Top Rank on ESPN/ESPN+ February 2 Results:
Top Rank’s first major boxing card of the year had plenty of newsworthy events, including two new world champions, a controversial finish to the co-main event and a potential unification bout being secured.
In the main event, Sergey Kovalev dominated Eleider Alvarez to win back the WBO light heavyweight title in a rematch of their August 2018 matchup that saw Alvarez win the WBO title by knocking out Kovalev in the seventh round.
The fight also crowned a new IBF lightweight champion in Richard Commey after a four-minute win against Isa Chaniev. Commey dominated from the start of the fight and then ended it after two knockdowns, putting him in line for a unification bout against Vasiliy Lomachenko, who holds the WBA and WBO titles.
The way this card was constructed was exactly the same way in which UFC did its first ESPN show last month. The early prelim card would be shown only on ESPN+, followed by a strong prelim card on ESPN television and ending it with a main card on ESPN+ once more.
UFC proved that this formula does work given that more than 500,000 people signed up for ESPN+ to watch the event from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A similar formula, should in theory, produce lots of new subscribers since the card featured Alvarez vs. Kovalev and Teofimo Lopez in action.
While it is obvious that the Top Rank card did not get 500,000 new ESPN+ subscribers, it likely did push the streaming platform to two million subscribers, which will further fuel Top Rank to produce more big shows on the platform versus television.
As far as what the television ratings were for the February 2 show from Texas, the ESPN TV card averaged 880,000 viewers and a 0.57 household rating (0.25 in the 18-49 demographic). Those numbers are probably not what ESPN wanted, especially with two world titles being featured, but given that the focus of the show was on the main event and that the television card didn’t start until 10 p.m. ET.
Overall, the event wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but given that none of the top four fights were even remotely competitive and that you had stay all the way up until 1:45 a.m. ET to watch the end does work in Top Rank’s favor.
The next boxing card on ESPN is a rare Sunday card from Fresno, California on February 10. The main event is Jose Ramirez vs. Jose Zepeda for the WBC junior welterweight title and the co-main event is Raymundo Beltran vs. Hiroki Okada in a junior welterweight bout.
Top Rank on ESPN/ESPN+ February 2 Results:
Sergey Kovalev defeated Eleider Alvarez by unanimous decision (120-108, 116-112, 116-112/Author’s scorecard: 118-110) to win the WBO light heavyweight title: The two boxers had met in the main event of an HBO-televised card from Atlantic City last August with Alvarez scoring the victory and winning the title by stopping Kovalev in the seventh round. In the rematch, Kovalev did everything in his power to avoid a similar result. The fight opened up with less fireworks than their first encounter, but Alvarez managed to sneak a left hand to the body at the end of the first round as the two boxers were still finding their range. Kovalev would then go on to outwork Alvarez shortly afterwards, throwing combination after combination to not give Alvarez a chance to retaliate. Whenever Alvarez would put both of his hands up to defend against Kovalev's straight left hands, Kovalev would throw a right hook around Alvarez's guard and into the side of his head, a tactic that worked at various points during the fight. Alvarez did manage to stun Kovalev a couple of times in the middle rounds, but beyond that, there was little that Alvarez did for the rest of the fight. Kovalev continued to bully Alvarez around the ring, having no problem connecting on key jabs and counter hooks to win a majority of the rounds. Even in the final round, Kovalev still worked more and hit harder than Alvarez despite being comfortably up on the scorecards, proving to the boxing world that their encounter in Atlantic City was merely a result of Kovalev overtraining for that fight and not having enough gas in the tank to execute his gameplan back then. According to CompuBox, Kovalev threw a total of 816 punches throughout the 12 rounds against Alvarez, landing 213 of them (26 percent). Alvarez was much less active, throwing for just 369 total punches and landing 111 of them (30 percent). Kovalev also outlanded Alvarez in jabs (60 to 33) and in power punches (153 to 78).
Teofimo Lopez defeated Jessie Magdaleno by KO, round 7: Initially, the idea that Magdaleno, a former title challenger and respected veteran, would challenge Lopez and pressure him at times seemed to be the idea in order to prove Lopez is capable of overcoming adversity inside the ring. That turned out to be nowhere near reality as Lopez dominated Magdaleno, almost making him look like a rookie by comparison. Lopez scored a knockdown in the sixth round and Magdaleno hadn’t shown anything that would indicate he could turn the tide against Lopez. Lopez knocked out Magdaleno in the seventh round and did his usual big celebration by backflipping and then motioning to Magdaleno, who still had not fully recovered from the knockout. The general reaction to the celebration was negative as many claimed it was unprofessional to do something like that when Magdaleno was still essentially out, but Lopez responded by saying Magdaleno talked a lot of trash before and even during the fight and that he had it coming. Regardless of what you think of the celebration, Lopez proved that he is ready for the big fights at lightweight and is a future star if Top Rank plays its cards right. Lopez is bilingual, talks well, is media-friendly, scores incredible knockouts and is very flashy inside the ring. In terms of what you’re looking for in a potential star to build your promotion around, Lopez has pretty much all the tools needed. The hope is to get him an eventual shot at Vasiliy Lomachenko, but that won’t happen until 2020 at the very least as Lomachenko is likely to unify a total three titles against Richard Commey and then defend his WBA title against mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla.
Oscar Valdez defeated Carmine Tommasone by KO, round 7 to retain the WBO featherweight title: Tommasone offered little danger to Valdez from the start as Valdez had no problem taking what few punches Tommasone landed on Valdez. The champion would outbox Tommasone throughout the fight, but it was in the fourth round where Valdez started dropping his opponent left and right. Valdez scored two knockdowns in the fourth round, followed by another one in the sixth round. Valdez ended his night with a body shot that immediately stopped the fight nine seconds into the seventh round. According to CompuBox, Valdez landed 88 of his 293 total punches (30 percent) and 47 of 122 of his power shots (39 percent). As for Tommasone, he only landed 49 of his 300 total punches thrown in the fight (16 percent).
Richard Commey defeated Isa Chaniev by TKO, round 2 to win the vacant IBF lightweight title: Commey started off by dominating Chaniev, landing several power punches with ease. Commey got the first knockdown with a strong 1-2 combination that began with a left hook and then a straight right hand to Chaniev, dropping him to the canvas. Chaniev was very slow to get up and appeared to not have fully recovered from getting dropped but the fight continued. Commey dropped Chaniev early in the second round with a left hook, eventually stopping Chaniev to win the world title. Now that Commey has a world title, he appears set to face Lomachenko on April 12 to unify the WBA, WBO and IBF 135-pound titles. The winner would then be one title away from being considered the undisputed lightweight champion.
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