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Most-watched fight of 2024: Does Shakur Stevenson deserve all the hype?

Say what you want about Shakur Stevenson not being the most exciting boxer in the scene, but the numbers don’t lie. Despite all the criticism about his slow and boring performance against Artem Harutyunyan last weekend in Newark, the latest reports about the viewership from the fight suggest it was the most watched fight on ESPN this year.

Since the Edwin De Los Santos clash, Stevenson seems to have fallen off the hype train because of his rather technical approach to fighting, which focuses on winning the fight, rather than entertaining the viewers. So, boxing journalist Keith Idec’s tweet revealing the viewership numbers came as somewhat of a surprise to many.

These numbers don’t include viewers from ESPN+

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Late yesterday, Idec hopped on X to write, “Shakur Stevenson-Artem Harutyunyan was the most-watched boxing main event ESPN aired in 2024”. Per his report, the event had an average viewership of 1,180,000, which peaked at 1,254,000. Idec added, “Those Nielsen numbers don’t include ESPN+ viewership, only linear TV viewers. ESPN+ figures aren’t released by ESPN”.

Poll of the day

What made Shakur Stevenson's fight against Artem Harutyunyan the most-watched boxing event on ESPN in 2024?

Stevenson's rising star power

Harutyunyan's underdog story

High-stakes drama

ESPN's promotion

Interestingly, back in 2022, Stevenson’s fight against Robson Conceicao gathered an average of 1,097,000 viewers at the same venue on ESPN, which peaked at 1,150,000 viewers. So, it’s safe to say that Stevenson’s popularity has grown even if the margin is slight. Regardless, after Idec’s tweet, Shakur Stevenson quickly reacted to the update, writing, “And the world still TUNED IN”.

While Stevenson was happy about these numbers, he wasn’t about the other numbers Idec revealed in a previous tweet.

Shakur Stevenson reportedly fell short of selling venue tickets

By all regards, Stevenson should have received a sold out arena in his hometown, where he has fought multiple times before. However, that wasn’t the case, at least per Idec. He wrote on X, “The official attendance tonight at Prudential Center is 8,412.”

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The overall capacity of the arena is 16,755, and 10,408 people were in attendance for Stevenson’s previous appearance against Shuichiro Yoshino at the same venue, which, of course, means the slow performance against De Los Santos had a significant effect in terms of a live audience.

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So, Idec wrote, “A smaller crowd than Shakur Stevenson’s last two appearances in his hometown of Newark”. This didn’t seem to sit well with the undefeated lightweight boxer, who reacted to the tweet, writing, “Lies Lies Lies”.

As it turns out, while people are still willing to watch Shakur Stevenson fight, most people don’t want to pay venue money for it. Rather, they would watch it on pay-per-view at home. However, after Stevenson’s yet another slow fight, it would be interesting to see what happens in his next fight. Will the numbers go down or up?