It's been a long time since his heyday on "The Contender," but Peter Mandredo Jr. (40-7, 21 KOs) still sees a buck to earn in one of the toughest occupations there is - professional prizefighting. Manfredo hasn't fought since late 2013 but acknowledges that his 2008 loss to Saiko Bika was when he first began looking towards life outside of boxing, saying that he knew he couldn't keep subjecting himself to the kind of physical punishment that the sport demands.
"Then what? Everybody loves when you're winning. No one cares when you lose. At the end of the day, it's you and your family and you've got to do what you've got to do to support your family. When you're boxing, I don't care how much money you make, you live within your means. It runs out!
"In boxing, there really aren't many happy endings. There's no retirement, there's no health care, there's no annuity. After you run out of your money, which you're going to, what do you have?"
Manfredo wasn't intent on find out for himself like so many before him, so he decided to take up a construction job where he works long hours of hard labor for good pay. But boxing is still a way for him to supplement his income, so the allure of the coin is bringing him back for a fight against Vladine Biosse (15-7-2, 7 KOs) this weekend at the Twin River Casino.
With his daughter entering high school next fall, Manfredo hopes to build her a bigger room, so this opportunity proved to be a chance for him to earn some extra cash applying a trade he's oh-so-familiar with. And this is exactly why it's so hard for professional fighters to walk away from the sport on their own terms...
So Manfredo returns to the ring on Friday, but he's at least not telling any tales of world title aspirations or anything like that - he admits it's only about the money.
"I am who I am. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not," Manfredo said. "I know I'm not the best fighter in the world, but how many people are? You've got Floyd Mayweather, who is probably the best fighter in the world in this generation and you can only have one. I know I'm not that, but I'm not trying to be that. I just want to make enough money to support my family and get by and I think people respect me for that because they can relate to that."
Whether or not Manfredo wins or loses this Friday, there's no promise of another payday for him as a professional fighter beyond this weekend. But since Manfredo maintains his discipline as a hard worker in his day job, he's at least not counting on fighting to put food on the table, which is a good thing.
"At the end of the day when I got older and I started having my own family, I woke up and I got myself a job and got myself in the union. It's the best move I ever made."
Naturally, Manfredo's acknowledgement of doing all he can to support his family is a story that can resonate with just about anyone. I certainly wish him the best, and that he can finally retire from the sport without it retiring him permanently. We've see too many instances of fighters fighting to support their families, only to become cumbersome burdens on those they had meant to protect. And that's the fine line professional prizefighters walk day-in and day-out...