The Contender series wasn’t a reality show in the popular sense of the word. I’m always disgusted when mainstream reporters refer to its contestants, when partaking in significant out-of-show bouts, as “reality show winners”. It misleads the uninitiated, implying those who featured were not ‘real’ boxers but talented wannabees, celebrities even. Fighters like Steve Forbes, Peter Manfredo and Alfonso Gomez were professional fighters long-before their participation in the ground-breaking series.
However, I also appreciate that these peripheral fighters with their high profiles are often placed in fights beyond their fistic limitations. Peter Manfredo Jnr. is a genuine sort of man. But placing him in front of Joe Calzaghe was akin to putting up an umbrella in a hurricane. Pushing the ever-game Alfonso Gomez into battle with Miguel Cotto roughly equivalent to playing destruction derby with a Tonka truck and a Sherman tank. It attracts the curious but the outcome is pre-ordained. The Contender is blown away or run over.
Sergio Mora, the series 1 champion broke this presumed order. He won his big fight. Sneaking past veteran Vernon Forrest earlier this year. The world still turned but something didn’t feel right. Mora’s presence as a champion, not that he is without merit as a professional fighter, felt a little like leaving the house without checking you shut the kitchen window. It felt uneasy.
Last weekend Forrest returned harmony to the world-title picture at Light-Middleweight by completely dominating the Contender and dropping him in the seventh en route to a shut out victory.
Forrest, 38 in February, will look to Paul Williams, Winky Wright and Shane Mosley for potential new foes, Mora will return to the lower lights of fellow Contenders. And everyone will sleep easier for the continuity.