Boxers come back. It’s just one of the definitive aspects of the fight game. They retire, and mean it, but then there’s the pull, the tug, the magnetic pull back into the sphere.
One didn’t probably expect to see “The Contender” back in the ring for another swing, but this is the age of the reboot, as Hollywood types accept and are rewarded with the knowledge that old concepts, with a spit polish and tweak to formula, can sometimes regain buzz and eyeballs.
This is the hope which “Survivor” creator Mark Burnett has in play, as he trots out a remake of the “reality” series which debuted in 2005, with Sly Stallone attached. Strivers gathered together to bond and also face off, look to battle their way up the ladder to elevated status, as they did from 2005-2009, on NBC, ESPN and then Versus.
People like Sergio Mora, “The Latin Snake,” were most certainly aided by the process, which gave them a hyper-drive upshot to fame and some decent fortunes, as well. He won season one, for the record, when it was NBC. Sakio Bika, in season three, also received a nice boost from the process.
I reached out to Mora, who was on set during filming, acting as a motivator and and big bro type of figure. The Cali hitter, still fighting, is counting down to the Friday night debut of episode one on premium cabler EPIX. So, is this show, a 12 ep run, a solid investment of time for a fight fan?
“No bullshit, fights were great! And they will be unedited. They have all the footage to make this a great show. Up to the producers how they cut and edit out the drama and character. I think you will get drama and great fights! Upsets and surprises. Quality programming at its best. My role is I’m Andre Ward’s sidekick on fight night. My role was more behind the scenes and videos. I will be taking you behind the scenes.”
And make no mistake, there will be drama, there will be storylines fashioned, you will be made aware of where this fighter comes from, what horrors that one battled through, what a wretched upbringing this one had to slog through, and how much that one NEEDS to get wins, to stay relevant in the game. Word is a late November finale, in Las Vegas, is planned.
On camera focal point Andre Ward is no stranger to that, battling through BS, and just day to day drama of existence, while staying focused and fired up.
No, these aren’t “name” fighters, looking to re-strike the fire. Shane Mosley is on the show, but it is Shane Mosley Jr, who holds a 10-2 record and at 27 will have to have a helluva second half of his career to get to the Hall of Fame level his dad did. That said, I hear on the grapevine he did dad proud and showed solid pugilism skills over the span of shooting. Then, you have guys like 17-2 Brandon Adams making a leap in weight and faith; he’s been a 154 pounder, but the lure of a Mark Burnett production and this grand stage brought him into the re-boot fold.
I’ve seen some footage, it looks gorgeous, and that automatically elevates the stakes. My three cents, I’m happy to have “The Contender” in the ring again, because they get it, they give the sport and the practitioners proper respect, and acknowledge the severe difficult of getting to be world class.
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