Contender Thoughts - Season 3 Finale - Codrington v. Bika

If you hadn't been following The Contender this season - and I'll admit I'd only been checking in on it sporadically - you probably weren't tuned in to ESPN for tonight's Season 3 finale featuring Jaidon Codrington and Sakio Bika. You may be surprised to hear you missed one heck of a fight.

"Fight" being the operative word. Neither finalist showed much in the way of defense or a willingness to box. That became apparent in the first half of the first round, as Bika dropped Codrington in 30 seconds, but The Don got up off the canvas to return the favor less than a minute later. After it looked like Bika might not make it out of the first, he took over about halfway through the second round and got the better of most of the middle rounds.

There was still plenty of drama thanks to Bika leaving himself wide open for return fire. In a reversal of the usual expectations, the younger Codrington had the better boxing skills, while the older Bika was sloppier but stronger. Both men ate a bunch of big shots, and when the sixth round ended with multiple wild haymakers thrown and landed, you just got the feeling the fight wasn't going the distance. There was still some doubt about which way it would go, but someone was getting knocked out.

The end came two rounds later. Codrington bravely tried to battle his way off the ropes as he had already done numerous times, but Bika landed a stiff upprcut and a series of hooks. Staggering into the corner, back completely turned to his opponent, Codrington was out on his feet.

Though it was a gutsy performance, Codrington failed to play to his strengths and clearly has more to learn in order to realize his full potential. At 23, he still has time to do it. Getting punched silly in Boston might not be the last memory we have of him.

Who knows what the future holds for the winner? Bika's already tangled with the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Lucian Bute and Markus Beyer, but the previous Contender finalists definitely enjoyed some new opportunities after the show, and Sakio's hit-and-be-hit style seems like it would lend itself to some exciting fights.

After last night's thriller, I'll be a little more willing to clear my TV viewing schedule the next time either man steps through the ropes.

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