By Jackie Kallen
When “The Contender” hit the airwaves in 2005, they predicted that they would change the face of boxing. They scoured the country for the best 154-pounders they could find. Through 5-round elimination matches, they narrowed the field down each week until they crowned a winner.
The finale was held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on May 24, 2005 and it was down to Sergio Mora against Peter Manfredo, jr. They were both fan favorites on the show and it was an exciting fight.
At the end, one man was left standing: Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora. From California, Mora won the $1,000,000 grand prize and was hoping to be the new boxing superstar. Winning the contender belt was supposed to be the first step toward becoming the undisputed, unified Champion of the World.
However, the plot did not go as planned. Last Friday night, Mora faced a 45-11 opponent named Jose Alfredo Flores at the Fantasy Springs Casino. Flores retired in the 7th to hand Mora the win, but this is probably not where Mora envisioned he’d be in 2011. The fight is at 160 pounds and Mora is not exactly at the top of the middleweight heap.
Another Sergio (Martinez) rules the roost and Boxrec.com lists Mora as #20. Peter Manfred, jr, whom Mora beat to win “The Contender” is at #15. Interesting twist of fate, but I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact that Mora lost two out of his last four fights. In 2008 he lost to the late Vernon Forrest and in his fight last February, he lost to Brian Vera. In between those two, he had a draw with Shane Mosley. Manfredo has won his last six in a row.
Mora is under the promotional banner of Golden Boy and I know they have solid plans for The Latin Snake. He is only 30 years old and has a lot of mileage left. But with only six knockouts in his 26 fights, he has not proven to be a crowd-thriller. He usually gets the job done, but not in a spectacular fashion.
I imagine Mora would love the chance to mix it up with Martinez. That would be a big fight for him. Or is another clash with Manfredo, jr. in the future? That might be the one fight that stirs things up for Mora and advances him in the division. Fans of “The Contender” would love to see these two go toe-to-toe again. Mora’s eyes will no doubt be peeled on the Manfredo jr., /Chavez, jr., fight on November 19 in Texas.
Manfredo has a much tougher opponent than Mora just had. Chavez, jr, is 43-0 and is a hot commodity, but anything is possible in boxing. The middleweight division is a hot one with Martinez, Felix Sturm and Andy Lee in the thick of things. It will be fun to see how it all shakes out.
“The Contender” is no longer on the air, but the fans are still following the careers of the original participants. Who will ultimately be at the top of the heap? Time will tell.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen