Top Rank Boxing on ESPN: Beterbiev vs. Kalajdzic Results:
Although it may seem somewhat counter-intuitive to run a boxing show on ESPN at the same time as a Canelo Alvarez fight on Cinco De Mayo weekend, there are plenty of positive takeaways from the May 4 Top Rank card from the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
In terms of the boxers taking part on the main card, IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas performed well in their respective title defenses, both of which ended with stoppage victories.
Beterbiev continued his impressive knockout streak in his return to Top Rank and in a loaded light heavyweight roster that the company has, his win over Radivoje Kalajdzic will get fans interested in potential matchups against the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Gilberto Ramirez and Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
As for Ancajas, the 115-pound champion regained a lot of momentum by having arguably the best performance of his entire title run against Ryuichi Funai. Ancajas has almost been seen as an afterthought in the division due to lackluster wins against lesser talent but his dominant win will surely put him in the conversation for potential title unifications down the road.
The other big takeaway is the attendance figure of the card, which ended up being 10,105, an impressive number in the United States. It wasn’t the two world champions who were responsible for that number, but in fact it was Gabriel Flores Jr. Flores is an unbeaten prospect who is from the area and helped draw in a majority of those 10,000 fans. The local promotion should be commended for their impressive work on capitalizing on their local stars and packing an arena like it did on May 4. It is perhaps the best example of when promoters are at their best and able to do incredible work with the fighters they have available. It’s hard to see Flores’ ceiling as far as world title contenders are concerned, but the highly successful attendance does give Top Rank a potential hidden gem to work with whenever they are in California.
A similar case can be seen with WBC junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez, who is from Fresno, California. Ramirez is in a similar state where he can draw in more than 10,000 fans to his fights whenever they take place in Fresno. In this day age where the focus on boxing is more concentrated on behind-the-scene politics and television rights, the art of promoting is a bit of a lost art as Rick Mirigian told me recently when we discussed how impressive using a local fighter, who is still a prospect, to turn in more than 10,000 people attending your card.
According to Showbuzz Daily, the entire telecast averaged 480,000 viewers and drew a 0.32 rating. The card, running at the same time as the Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs main card on DAZN, was headlined by Artur Beterbiev vs. Radivoje Kalajdzic for the IBF light heavyweight title. The ESPN card also drew a 0.13 rating in the 18-49 demographic, which is good for 52nd on cable for the day. The event was also competing with the NBA Playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, which averaged more than seven million viewers.
The viewership were only slightly higher than Top Rank's least-viewed card on ESPN of 2019, which was the March 23 card that averaged 469,000 viewers. On that card, Kubrat Pulev defeated Bogdan Dinu in a heavyweight matchup. The May 4 card's viewership numbers were lower than the March 30 card, which averaged 655,000 viewers.
May 4 Top Rank on ESPN results:
Artur Beterbiev defeated Radivoje Kalajdzic by KO, round 5 to retain the IBF Light Heavyweight Title: Beterbiev got off to a strong start, dropping Kalajdzic late in the third round with a straight left hand followed by a series of punches that forced Kalajdzic to drop to one knee. Kalajdzic recovered and in the fourth round, the two fighters traded big power shots with both men landing solid punches on each other. At the start of the fifth round, Beterbiev peppered Kalajdzic with more punches upstairs and as soon as Kalajdzic went to the ropes, referee Dan Stell stepped in to end the fight.
Gabriel Flores Jr. defeated Eduardo Pereira dos Reis by KO, round 3: Flores was easily the biggest start of the night in Stockton and the main reason the event drew more than 10,000 fans into the Stockton Arena. Flores landed a thunderous left hook early in the third round that immediately knocked Reis out, sending the crowd into a frenzy and celebrating Flores' successful return to his hometown. With the win, Flores now moves to 13-0 as a pro with six knockout victories.
Jerwin Ancajas defeated Ryuichi Funai by KO, round 7 to retain the IBF Super Flyweight Title: The fight was mostly one-sided as Ancajas' sharp left hand disrupted Funai's attempts to get any offense going in the early portion of the fight. The fight really started to turn in Ancajas' favor in the fourth round when he landed a series of punches that hurt Funai and pushed him back. This opened up the door for Ancajas to constantly punish his Japanese opponent for the remainder of the fight as Funai's face bruised, battered and dealing with a cut. Right as the seventh round began, a ringside physician took a look at Funai and ruled that he is not able to continue fighting, awarding Ancajas the victory.
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