Wednesday, April 20, 2005

DB on TV: The Contender Wraps Up Round One

Sunday, April 17
The Contender - NBC

Another surprise conclusion to another surprisingly good episode of The Contender this week. What could have easily been a filler show – we’re at the end of the first round at this point, where the original 16 boxers have been chiseled down to eight via one-on-one bouts at the end of each show – turned into an interesting and satisfying match-up between Joey Gilbert, the strapping son of a marine just returned from Afghanistan in time for the fight, and Jimmy Lang, a tough veteran of the ring from Virginia.

Before I go any further, I have some worldwide breaking news to drop on all of you: was it just me, or did Jimmy Lang’s dad look like a dead ringer of Bill Murray circa Kingpin? He had the baldness going up top coupled with a mullet for starters, the kind of rugged features necessary for such a comparison, and to top it all off: a strange gray and white shirt/tie combo that screamed (to me at least) I am the king of this here bowling arena.

The fight, as per usual, was a really good one. These guys really go after each other every week.

Juan de la Rosa getting his quit on was also an interesting development. It was clear that even ringleaders Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone had little stomach for Juan’s “I need to think about my career” kind of talk. His hand and eyebrow were busted up a little, but everyone seemed to know that even in victory the week before, the young “prodigy” was exposed as a flashy young amateur.

The remainder of the episode involved an end of the first round break to Las Vegas and Caesar’s Palace, the site of the final bout, which will result in the winner claiming a $1 million purse. While it was amusing to watch the fighters walking around sunny Vegas in their tricked out pimp daddy hats, you could clearly see the wonderment and hunger in their eyes: this variety of glitter and glam represents the kind of lifestyle they might expect if they were to obtain celebrity-athlete status.

I’m looking forward to the second round. We know all of the personalities, and everyone who made it this far is at least competent – and certainly determined – in the ring.

There’s going to be some fighting and intrigue ahead for sure.

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