Friday, February 20, 2009

The Contender: Episode 11 Review

The final pre-taped episode of The Contender aired this past Wednesday night, with the four remaining boxers battling it out in the semi-finals.

Troy Ross 19-1 vs Akinyemi Laleye 12-1

Rico Hoye (pictured right) 22-2 vs Hino Ehikhamenor 14-3

Let's get to the action...

Photo © Chris Thompson LoFlame

Although a little one sided, the first fight of the night between Troy Ross and AK Laleye, was an entertaining battle.

While the weights for the fights on the show aren’t listed – at least I can’t find them listed anywhere – I have to assume that Troy had a decent size advantage. In his most recent fights before coming on the show, he’s been weighing around 192-195, while AK’s been between 175 and 182 (thank you

Given the size disparity, it was no surprise that John Bray’s instructions to AK were to box and move, and in the early going he could be heard yelling “Make him come get it! Make him come to you!” That was probably the only way AK was going to have a chance, but I don’t think it’s in his make-up to fight that way. He likes to mix it up too much, and he did just that, pressing forward each time Troy refused to lead.

While Troy was consistently getting the best of the action, Tommy Brooks felt he could be doing better. Before the second round, he urged Troy to throw the jab more, and put his punches together in combination, rather than loading up with big counter hooks.

Troy did seem to ease up on going for the one punch knock-out in the second and third rounds, but he certainly didn’t use his jab too much.

“You’re not using your jab!” Tommy told him before the fourth round. “All you got to do is throw your punches straight, baby. He can’t get out the way, he’s squared up. You’re rushing it. Take your time. Pick your spots.”

In the other corner, John told AK to just keep doing what he was doing. Considering AK hadn’t been following the plan, I have to assume John was just trying to keep his fighter motivated. AK kept battling, and while he was on the receiving end of most of the punishment being dished out, he did catch Troy with a really nice right hand during a good exchange along the ropes late in the round.

In the final round, Troy laid a real pounding on AK, but could never dent the man from Lagos’ spirit. AK took flush bomb after flush bomb, but kept willing his way forward, and was game until the end.

The scores were 50-45 across the board for Troy.

The second semi-final looked like an even contest heading in, with Hino holding a size advantage, but Rico being the more experienced fighter.

I thought Hino had a slight edge in what was an action packed first round. He found the mark a few times with his right hand, including one occasion where he followed it up with a nice left hook.

Before the second round, John told Rico he needed to keep space by using his jab and stepping to his right, to keep him away from Hino’s right. Rico just couldn’t do it though, and kept getting tagged. Even when he wasn’t using the jab, he was too much in Hino’s range and found himself getting whacked with right hands.

Hino looked like he had the better of things in the third as well. He appeared to constantly beat Rico to the punch, prompting host Tony Danza to comment that, “It’s almost like he (Rico) can’t pull the trigger.”

Before the fourth round, John reiterated to Rico that he needed to move to his right, and that he needed to get busier. In the other corner, Tommy didn’t have any complaints with Hino, and just reminded him that he was having success when he threw more than one shot at a time.

It did look like Rico was a little busier in the fourth, but Hino was still the one fighting with more initiative. He used his strength a little to push Rico back into the ropes, and as was the case with the previous rounds, getting that right hand in was key.

I think Rico realized he needed a knock out to win, because he came out with some real urgency in the final round. But despite his aggressiveness, he still seemed a little slow to get off and Hino was able to allude most of Rico's attack. Based on activity, it probably was Rico's round, although the best punch was probably a right hand from Hino moments before the bell.

The scores were unanimous in Hino’s favor; 50-45, 48-47 and 49-46.

The final show is all set.

Hino and Troy will be going ten rounds to decide this season's winner, while Rico and AK will be fighting an eight rounder to determine third place.

Catch all the action live on Versus at 8 PM this Wedneday.

I assume we’ll get some highlights of the other three bouts on the card, which are:

Alfredo Escalera Jr. vs Erick Vegas – 6 rounds
Felix Cora Jr. vs Tim Flamos – 6 rounds
Ryan Coyne vs Richard Gingras – 6 rounds

- Andrew Fruman e-mail