Friday, February 13, 2009

The Contender: Episode 10 Review

Hino Ehikomenor 13-3 vs Deon Elam (photo © Zack Jennings) 10-0

Rico Hoye 21-2 vs Joell Godfrey 9-1-1

Episode 10 featured the second double header of the season, as the remaining two semi-final places were settled.

Deon and Hino were first up.

While Deon came into the bout with a perfect record, he’d only fought a grand total of 40 rounds against extremely limited opposition. I think Deon's as talented as Hino, possibly more so, but his lack of experience was too much of a hurdle to overcome. He was just a little too tight out there, especially in the early going.

John Bray kept screaming for Deon to get busy and let his hands go, but it wasn’t until late in the third round, that he started to open up. He carried that momentum into the fourth round, where he showed some real purpose and managed to stagger Hino with a hard right hand. Hino looked a little hurt, but he weathered the storm, and was soon firing back, and was the better of the two fighters in the final round.

The scores were 49-46 across the board for Hino.

Hino did what he was supposed to in getting the win, but Tommy Brooks sounded progressively less thrilled with him as the fight went on. Hino relies on head movement, rather than keeping his hands high, and he’s not quite slick enough to keep getting away with it. At least not in Tommy view, as after the fight he said, “Listen to me, you’re not going to be able to do that against Troy, or you’ll be looking up at the lights.”

With a bit more seasoning, Deon might find the self belief to let his hands go more when he’s in against quality opponents. He sounded upbeat afterwards, although I imagine he’ll be replaying the bout over and over in his head, wishing he’d have kicked things into gear earlier.

The second bout between Rico and Joell followed a similar pattern to the first, with the less experienced fighter taking some time to find his footing.

If you’ve been following along with the show, you know that Joell can thank Rico for his place in the second round. It looked like Joell’s tournament was over after his decisive loss to Felix Cora Jr., in the show’s opening episode. But an injury to Ryan Coyne, left Rico needing a replacement opponent. The decision of who to bring back was left up to the remaining fighters, who in turn let Rico make the call.

Against Felix, Joell constantly found himself with his back to the ropes, which was never a good place for him. He just doesn’t have the skills to counter from that position, and each time he was driven back, he got the worst of the exchanges.

He gave a better account of himself tonight, although he still found himself getting backed up too much, and it cost him. On occasion, you could hear host Tony Danza yelling from his seat, “You don’t want to be there, get off those ropes!”

Suddenly, late in the third round, Joell started flashing some of his skills. No idea what took him so long, but when he started letting his hands go, and using some movement, he took the play away from Rico.

“That’s what I’m talking about! I need two rounds of what you just did!” John told him when he got back to the corner.

Joell came out for the fourth looking poised and confident. He stayed on the move, kept the fight as his range, and landed some nice jabs and right hands. It was by far his best round of the tournament.

Unfortunately for Joell, he just couldn’t sustain that energy, and when Rico turned up the intensity in the final round, he found himself struggling to keep up. Time and again, Rico drove an increasingly ragged looking Joell backwards. Finally, with around ten seconds left to go, with Rico moving in on him, an exhausted Joell voluntarily sunk to one knee.

Joell had enough left to get to his feet, but if there were another twenty seconds or so, Rico may have stopped him.

The final scores were unanimous in Rico’s favor; 50-44, 48-46 and 49-45.

Next week, we have another double-header, with both semi-finals going. Troy Ross will battle Akinyemi Laleye, and Hino will face off against Rico.

The winners meet at Foxwoods, in Detroit, on February 25th.

- Andrew Fruman e-mail