Source: Boxing Scene (Mike Nosky)
Rumors are leading to hit reality series "The Contender" heading to the Versus Network instead of just fading away. It would be the third network for the program in four seasons (first season was on NBC, latter two on ESPN).
Since the moment ESPN cancelled the show, it has seemed as though Versus would be the most likely destination. Even before anything remotely legit started flying through the rumor wind tunnels, it just seemed to make the most sense. Versus airs boxing, wants to get a stronger foothold in the market, and "The Contender" is a proven show with a wide-reaching appeal; actually, I'd assume at least 35-40% of the usual "Contender" viewership wouldn't even be what you'd consider boxing fans. I make this assumption just because I rarely meet actual boxing fans that count themselves among the show's regular viewers.
What has the real impact of the show been on the sport, while we're at it?
Season one featured Sergio Mora, Alfonso Gomez and Peter Manfredo, Jr., who all have gone on to varying degrees of success. However, if Mora loses as convincingly as expected on Saturday against Vernon Forrest, all three of those fighters will have been thoroughly exposed at some point.
Season two produced Stevie Forbes. That's really it. Won by Grady Brewer, who has been out of action since the show with injuries.
Season three was the best in the show's brief history, featuring a better class of fighters at 168 pounds, including winner Sakio Bika, runner-up Jaidon Codrington, veteran Sam Soliman, and recent Andy Lee upset merchant Brian Vera.
But for a boxing fan, a dedicated boxing fan, it's a hard show to watch. The production, the sound stages, that awful music during the fights, the hideous ring announcer, the "canned heat" audiences -- it adds up to too much TV show, not enough boxing.
If we get more fights like the season three finale, then great. But how likely is that?