Should Peter Manfredo Jr. Get a Title Shot?

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Should Peter Manfredo Jr. Get a Title Shot?

Is Peter Manfredo Jr. a boxer who is worthy of a title shot? Or is he just an average fighter who got lucky thanks to an appearance on a reality TV series? That’s the main question that is swirling around the former star of the American boxing reality competition “The Contender” as he continues on his quest for a world title. He’s won several minor titles in recent years but a world title shot continues to elude him.

Now 29, the Providence, Rhode Island native was a young prospect looking for a break when he joined the cast of the first season of “The Contender,” a reality boxing tournament matching up boxers and offering a million-dollar prize to the winner. He was upset in the first round against Alfonso Gomez but was brought back as an injury replacement and eventually earned a shot at the finals.

Manfredo Jr. lost in the finals to Sergio Mora in May 2005 and also dropped a close rematch via split decision less than five months later. However, Manfredo Jr.’s fighting spirit and attitude earned him plenty of fans and recognition beyond the circle of hard core boxing fans. This arguably helped his career as a pair of victories over Scott Pemberton and Joe Spina set up a match against WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe in April 2007.

However, Manfredo Jr. wasn’t close to being in Calzaghe’s league. He could not handle the constant pressure that Calzaghe applied and appeared to freeze up under the bright lights of the Millennium Stadium in Calzaghe’s hometown of Cardiff, Wales. The bout was stopped in the third round when referee Terry O’Connor felt Manfredo Jr. was unable to defend himself from an onslaught of punches from Calzaghe. Manfredo Jr. thought that the bout was stopped too early, as his game plan had been to let Calzaghe punch him out. But the truth is that Manfredo Jr. simply looked outclassed by Calzaghe, who would retire with a perfect record.

Since then, Manfredo Jr.’s career has fallen into a familiar pattern – he looks good against the fighters he should beat but has not been able to earn a victory against the higher calibre fighters he faces. He was beaten by former world champion Jeff Lacy in December 2007, although it was a close decision and several observers felt he did enough to earn the win. Another loss came in November 2008, when he was knocked out in the third round by former world title contender and “The Contender” finalist Saiko Bika.

Manfredo Jr. has won his last four fights since the loss to Bika, most recently claiming the minor IBO middleweight title with a 10th round stoppage of Angel Hernandez in May. Manfredo Jr. has moved down to middleweight in recent fights – he had mainly fought as a super middleweight but had also moved up to light heavyweight in recent bouts. He recently said that he believes it was “obvious” that he didn’t belong at super middleweight because he was always the smaller fighter and that moving down to middleweight will help him to extend his career.

Manfredo Jr. currently stands at a crossroads in his career. He’s fought his way back into title contention with his recent string of impressive victories. As a popular fighter with name recognition from his time on “The Contender” he should be exactly the type of opponent that a champion would want to face – it’s hard to imagine that a major cable network wouldn’t pick up a title fight involving him.

At the same time, his inability to break through and win a major fight might have earned him a reputation as a journeyman who is good enough to beat other second-tier boxers but who can’t handle elite competition. Until Manfredo Jr. gets another shot at a world title, it will be tough for him to shake that reputation – deserved or otherwise.



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