Super Six does what TV Contender didn’t!
By Coach Tim Walker – Originally I began this column with “We all know about Contender TV series.” I quickly rethought my statement, realizing that if we all knew what it was the ratings might be a bit higher, and changed it to “Super Six Tournament does what TV Contender didn’t!” Not only did it do what the Contender didn’t but it seems to be all the rage in boxing.
Article posted on 13.10.2009
I am a loyal fan of the Contender series since its inception. When it was first announced I thought it would pit upper level fighters who had just not gotten the breaks in boxing to be financially successful. It didn't exactly do that. Still, I stayed tuned from its beginnings on NBC, to its relocation to ESPN, to its last and possibly final network destination, Versus. Hell, I even watched Contender Muay Thai (LOL). I have every season on tape, know every fighter who has participated and of course who the winners are. It became a way for me to see some fighters I might not have seen before..
There are some things I like about the show and some things I really wish they would change. In my opinion, not showing the fights in their entirety is the show’s biggest blunder. Another mistake is adding sound effects and slow motion. The travesties don’t end there. Background cheers are ridiculous especially when you can see the audience NOT cheering. But I do not produce the series thus my desire for change to its overall production falls on deaf ears, mine.
With all of its shortcomings there is one thing I applaud the Contender for attempting to do, bring in top level fighters. But how could it really? In a sport with the-haves and the-have-nots how could it be successful in securing major fighters of note? In short, it couldn’t. The show’s grand prize has been reported to range from $500,000 to $1 Million but that payday is to only one of 16 fighters. Remember, boxing is marginal and a single loss will set a fighter back 2, 3 or maybe even 4 years. When you’re on the fringe you can’t afford a loss and fringe contenders are who the series sought after.
Season after season fighters would say yes to the show’s producers only to back out at the last minute. Thus the Contender got the best it could. Fighters who were good stories, good faces, decently talented but not quite on the championship level as the fighters strapping the recognized belts around their torsos or those in true contention to challenge for those belts.
Why did this happen?
One fighter wins the Contender which means only one fighter gets that big payday and in boxing when you loose to a fighter you may never get a second crack at him. Why loose to a guy for nearly nothing that you could match with later for a decent payday? This, readers, is where the Contender falls short and the Super Six Tournament picks up super-steam.
The pot surrounding the Super Six Tournament is roughly $50 Million split between six fighters which is enough to bring serious fighters to the table. The lineup includes WBA champ Mikkel Kessler, WBC champ Carl Froch, IBF champ Arthur Abraham, former unified WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO world champ Jermain Taylor, top ten world ranked Andre Dirrell, and undefeated Andre Ward who by the way is an Olympic gold medalist. Folks, that’s a lineup! That’s the equivalent of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade and Chirs Paul going head to head in a round robin-style one-on-one basketball tournament. It comes down to the good ole, “risk-reward” factor a phrase nearly as synonymous with boxing these days as the words “world champion.”
The Super Six Tournament is already monumentally successful. Go to any boxing website and it’s there. It's being brought around office water coolers. I have come across countless blogs dealing with how potent this tournament is. As with any tournament there are always those who feel snubbed. With certainty Sakio Bika, Lucian Bute, Jean Pascal, Kelly Pavlik, Tavoris Cloud or Felix Sturm, who all fall near 168, would have been excellent additions to the lineup but the fact that fighters of their level are being left out speaks volumes about the lineup.
The Contender should take note.
A pet peeve of mine regarding the show is that it is trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak. What you have is a reality TV producer approaching boxing like any other reality show. Boxing isn’t tough man and it isn’t UFC where an individual or small group has the power to control its direction. Boxing is based on individual fighters but it is the dozens and dozens of people behind the fighters that make the sport work.
What manager, promoter or trainer in their right boxing mind is going to take a chance on the Contender when the possibilities are so much greater and lucrative down the line? The Contender should get some of these guys involved. Sure they have their own methodology but by and large it works.
Here are my suggestions to improve the show.
Drop the contestant list down to 8 fighters which will yield you 7 shows possibly 8 if you count tryouts. Add a couple of weeks between the semi-finals and finals to do show recaps or lead ups to the finals will add another 2 or 3 shows (sort of like HBO’s 24-7).
Pay first round losers $30,000, semi-final losers $75,000, finals loser $125,000 and the overall winner $250,000. Trust me many fighters aren’t getting paid that amount and this makes sense to promoters. This makes it worth the chance of your fighter losing if you know he is going to still get a decent payday.
The show needs to be promoted like a TV show but the fight needs to be promoted like a live event: part pre-produced and then a cut to the live main event. There is a boxing show every week somewhere in the world. Capitalize on that fact.
Remove everything that looks like slow motion or sounds like a sound effect. Ridiculous!
Get a real boxing gym for training. Boxing gyms are where hard, hard work takes place. The best boxing gym I’ve ever been in had not air conditioning or heat. The Contender gym looks leisurely. Let the public see a real boxing gym that features the hard work, the sweat, the blood and the tears. Show all the pain boxers go thru to get to the top.
The success of boxing, through decades of filtering, is hinged on managers, promoters and trainers as much as it is to the boxers. If the Contender can find a place for them, then the Contender can truly find its place.
For questions or comments please contact Coach Tim Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his blog, boxing4life.blogspot.com.
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