Boxing Dose of Reality

By Coach Tim Walker - Reality shows haven't been kind to boxing. The Contender Champion series, which completed its fourth season earlier this year, began on NBC, found its way to ESPN, then moved to Versus. I guess it is fortunate that the series gets picked up so often. Typically shows that lose network support quickly find themselves dismantled. Still, four seasons, three networks, not great.

With all the adversity that the series has faced, including lack of fighter support, it has managed to bolster the careers of many of its participants.. Sergio Mora has proven to be the most successful to appear on the show thus far having won a majority decision over Vernon Forrest to capture the WBC Light Middleweight title. Three months later in a rematch with Forrest he lost that same title by unanimous decision.

I placed a call to the offices of the series' production company, Mark Burnett, and was told that no decisions have been made concerning the series' future. This may just prove to be enough wiggle room for a new boxing reality show to land a few blows.

Mario Lopez, a former amateur boxer, zealous boxing fan and current host of Extra and America's Best Dance Crew, has taken a liking to top ten ranked boxer Victor Ortiz and ventured into production of a new boxing reality show that will feature Ortiz. Lopez teamed up with Cris Abrego (51 Productions) to produce the series. 51 Productions is no stranger to successful reality shows having a current roster with successful shows I Love Money and Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.

You may recall seeing several cameras following Ortiz during his June 27 bout against Marcos Maidana at the Staples Center, Los Angeles (more cameras than usual for a fight of this level). Many of those cameras weren't covering the fight they were 51 Productions cameras capturing footage of Ortiz to complete the pilot and pitch the series. Ironically, the extra attention may have backfired, Ortiz lost by 6 round knockout to Maidana.

The new show, which is not yet named, is being worked through the annals of MTV, Versus and others. It is a bit unclear as to what type of show it will be and this will have a major impact on whether fans of boxing lock horns with it. The Contender failed to grab the attention of boxing's middle aged male fan base primarily because it was produced like a television show not a sporting event. Special effects and slow motion failed to enhance viewing. Not airing the fights in their entirety fell short as well. Unless the intent is to use the show to strictly create a new fan base similar to MTV's Bully Beatdown then MTV might not be a good fit.

If the show is picked up and lands at MTV then you can be almost certain that it will not attract current boxing fans, which again are largely middle aged men. MTV's median viewer age is 21. Versus would be a better fit but this series would need to learn from some of the mistakes made by the Contender Champion series. Basically, don't make the show Hollywood, make it a real sporting event and boxing fans might just tune in. All in all, boxing needs as much bolstering as possible in a climate that keeps it off free TV as much as possible.

Note: Some of the Contenders Champion series other notable fighters are Peter Manfredo Jr., Cornelius Bundrage, Sakio Bika, Alfonso Gomez and Sam Soliman. Most recently the series was won by Canadian fighter Troy Ross.

Article posted on 21.07.2009

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