Despite loss, Codrington proves he’s ‘Contender’

BOSTON, MASS. - Jaidon Codrington may not have won ESPN’s “The Contender 3,” but his performance likely solidified his future in the sport.
“The Don” was stopped in the eighth round by Sakio Bika, a traveled heavy hitter and former Olympian having gone the distance with current WBC, WBA and WBO super middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe, at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Tuesday, November 6.
Yet Codrington (18-2, 14 KOs) showed so much in this reality show — most of all, an ability to fight through adversity in and out of the ring — that follows the lives of 16 professional boxers in search of glory in the single-elimination tournament.
Shown weekly on ESPN, the 23-year-old Codrington has come a long way since his days in the local Broadway Boxing bouts and his first loss — an unforgettable 18-second knockout that has become a YouTube favorite - to Allan Greene Nov. 5, 2005.
In each three of his fights during the series, Codrington, a Laurelton product, took shots to the chin but came back stronger, refuting his boxing-wide reputation of a glass jaw.
“The biggest misconception [with me] was that I didn’t have a chin, but maybe [people] feel differently now,” Codrington said. “Maybe they know I have a lot more heart than they thought.”
Furthermore, after knocking out Brian Vera in two rounds, he lost his father, Jamesy Codrington Sr., four days before his semifinal bout with Wayne Johnsen.
He thought about quitting and heading home until a chat with Hall of Famer and “Contender” host Sugar Ray Leonard convinced him to stay.
All Codrington did was knock out Johnsen in the opening round to advance to the finale. “When something like this (his father’s death) happens to you, you feel like nothing can stop you,” he said prior to the finals. “I was untouchable that night.”
However, it didn’t carry him over the top for the $750,000 payday or more importantly bragging rights for being the “Contender Champion.” The first round set the tone as a brawl ensued with Bika (25-3-2, 14 KOs) landing a hard right and knocking Codrington to the mat.
As memories of Codrington’s first-round loss to Green in 2005 resurfaced in the ring, Codrington would have none of a reprise. He quickly bounced back and landed a knockdown of his own when he floored Bika with a left hook.
The next few rounds were similar to the first without the knockdowns. Codrington seemed to let go of his game plan to mix it up with Bika. He abandoned his boxing skills to throw bombs, leading to his absorbing an onslaught.
That punishment took its toll in the eighth, when a flurry of violent shots ended Codrington’s night at 2:18 of the round, referee Dick Flaherty stepping in to end it.
“I just fought the wrong fight, but fought the good fight,” he said.
Both fighters were rushed to the hospital for precautionary measures, though the damage was minimal. Leonard, echoing the sentiment of many watching, was dumbfounded by what he witnessed.
“Unbelievable, no question, bar none, the fight of the year,” Leonard said. “This is what being a contender is all about.”
The close to ten thousand fans in attendance got their money’s worth. As for Codrington, he walks away with $150,000 and newfound respect.
“The most rewarding part of the show is the exposure, getting everybody to see who I am,” he said. “There was so much energy in the arena. That is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will help me tremendously.”

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