Thursday, March 24, 2005

Simmons on 'The Contender'

Bill Simmons on ESPN's Page 2 adds some more credibility to the argument that "The Contender" is an outstanding show that sets itself apart from other reality shows. He does, though, say something that I had already said about the show and boxing in general.

Which raises another question: Could this be the show that gets casual fans into boxing again? Between sleazy promoters, shaky judging decisions, pricey pay-per-views, all the different championship belts, the lack of personable fighters and everything else, Americans don't have a connection with boxing the way they once did. Most sports fans wouldn't recognize Bernard Hopkins if he were sitting on their laps, and he was probably the defining fighter of the past decade. When was the last time the sport roped in someone like the Sports Gal, who was crying by the end of the Najai Turpin episode last week? See, that's the thing about boxing – since there's no structure to the sport, younger fighters don't get marketed properly, if they get marketed at all, so we never develop a connection to them. The sad reality of this show is that some of these boxers will end up being more famous (in the short-term) than Jermain Taylor, the best fighter in that division other than Hopkins.

Still, it's a very insightful article overall.

I have become a regular viewer myself, and last week's fight involving Najai, the boxer who later killed himself, was pretty heart-braking. It seems like the guy had a really tough life and only recently was putting the pieces back together since having a daughter. For the fight, Najai picked a much taller guy, whom he had little chance of beating, and performed heroically in a losing effort. Although on screen he seemed to put a good face on the result, you could sort of tell he felt heart-broken about it.

I completely agree with the decision to keep Najai’s scenes on the show. I never believe that someone's death should cause his memory to be erased. The most respectful thing to do is to keep his memory alive and keeping him on the show did just that.

My Previous Posts on 'The Contender':
Second Look at 'The Contender'
Contender is a Flop
Boxing in 2005 Equals Poker in 2004?


Joslin's Post on the Inferno II

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