- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Inside the ring, former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s fights are almost always highly entertaining. And outside the ring, there’s always drama, too. That has made him one of boxing’s biggest attractions, and his television viewership figures are a testament to that.
Chavez’s lopsided but action-packed decision win against Bryan Vera in their super middleweight rematch on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio drew another strong audience for HBO.
The fight drew 1.390 million viewers and peaked at 1.531 million viewers for the live airing, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The fight drew only slightly less than Chavez-Vera I in September, which generated an audience of 1.416 million viewers and was the second-most watched fight cable fight of 2013 (behind only the 1.555 million viewers drawn by Miguel Cotto’s third-round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5).
Besides the strong performance from Chavez-Vera II, the opening fight between Orlando Salido and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko, going for a featherweight world title in only his second pro fight, drew 1.017 million viewers -- a 30 percent increase over Salido’s previous appearance on HBO, when he lost to Mikey Garcia in January 2013.
Lomachenko lost a split decision to Salido (who was stripped of his belt for missing weight) but his quest to win a belt in his second fight drew a lot of media attention, which almost surely helped generate interest in the fight.
Chavez is likely to be back on HBO in July -- opponent to be determined. With a victory, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum intends to bring him back in the fall on HBO PPV with middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin as the central target, although super middleweight titlist Carl Froch (should he beat George Groves in their May 31 rematch) and former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal are other possibilities, according to Arum.