On Monday, NBC aired its latest reality television drama. The Contender, hosted by Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard and produced by Mark Burnett, got off to a dramatic start. The show features 16 professional boxers who all train at a centralized facility in Los Angeles and compete against one another in 5-Round boxing matches. The final two contestants will box live on May 24 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The winner receives a $1 million prize purse and a 4-year professional boxing contract.
Monday’s airing drew roughly 8.5 million viewers and created a buzz as early favourite Peter Manfredo Jr was eliminated by Alfonzo Gomez. The next episode is this Thursday at 10pm on NBC, followed by the third episode at its regular time slot, Sunday at 8pm.
Much “to-do” has been made about the attempts of the show’s creators and producers to “revive” professional boxing and reclaim the sport from corruption and greed. What the majority of people do not understand, is that at the amateur level, boxing is alive and well. Will the buzz of this show aid OUR sport or will it add to perception that amateur boxing is the same as professional boxing and turn people away from it? We can only hope that the determination of these boxers and the family values that the show is using to attract viewers will be the true underlying themes that shine through.
Either way, as boxing fans we’ll be watching. Who will be the next to go?