The Contender Series Down to 12!
By Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (Jan 5, 2009)  
This is season 4 of “The Contender”. Starting with their usual 16 boxers they are now down to 12 after 3 weeks of action. Each Wednesday Versus network has been showing bouts from Singapore where they filmed the matches in September and October.

In week 1 on 12/3 Joell Godfrey now (9-1-1) shot his mouth off hoping to get one of the more inferior boxers. Watch what you ask for? He got Felix Cora, Jr. (19-2-2) instead and paid the price. These are 5 round matches. Cora is from Galveston, Texas, and was coming off 2 straight losses and giving up height to Godfrey. From East St. Louis, Illinois, Godfrey only had one 8 round bout under his belt. Cora won by 50-45 (2) and 49-46 on the scorecards. Cora has a win in 2006 over one of the show’s favorites in Darnell “Ding-A-Ling Man” Wilson (23-7-3). I saw Wilson to say hello too recently at a show in DC and knew better than to ask him how he did. They are sworn to secrecy. Even his trainer Charles Mooney from the 1976 Olympic team doesn’t know. Wilson has yet to be chosen but is already having a problem at 210 making the 200 limit. Wilson has lost 2 of his last 3 matches including his USBA title to BJ Flores and in his last fight for the WBA title losing to Firat Arslan in Germany over 12 rounds. Wilson’s punching power of 20 knockouts in 23 wins makes him a dangerous opponent for any of the contenders.

In week 2 on 12/10 Alfredo Escalera, Jr. (16-1-1) of Puerto Rico defeated Jon Schneider (7-3-1) of Yonkers easily. Schneider was very inexperienced but showed a lot of heart. Escalera’s only loss is to DeLeon Tinsley (9-4-1) who drew and lost to Godfrey. Schneider, a southpaw, who had been stopped in his two previous losses, came off the canvas in the 3rd round in this fight with Escalera. 50-44 and 49-45 twice were the scores.

In week 3 on 12/17 Akinyemi “AK” Laleye (10-2) of Nigeria, now living in Las Vegas won a decision over Erick Vega (8-3-1) of Phoenix. Laleye has been fighting in the light heavyweight (175) division most of his career and felt Vega would be an easy target. What he found was Vega was not as easy as he thought though winning 50-46 and 49-46 (2). Vega had Laleye beaten in the 5th and last round when he got stunned costing him the round.

There was no show on 12/24. In week 4 on 12/31 Deon Elam (10-0) of Van Nuys defeated Richard Gingras (9-2) from Claremont, New Hampshire by scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47. Elam has never gone beyond 5 rounds in his three 6 round bouts which could cause him a problem down the stretch if he advances. Every time Gingras would come inside he was getting hit with vicious uppercuts. Elam had too many skills for the on rushing Gingras who had the heart of a lion. Prior to picking Gingras, Elam mentioned he might have picked Mike Alexander (12-2) of Columbus, Ohio but decided to go with Gingras. Alexander won his first 11 matches over ordinary opposition before losing to Chazz Witherspoon who was then (12-0) unbeaten and over the Showtime network. Alexander showed well in defeat. After picking up a win he traveled to Germany to again lose to a (12-0) unbeaten fighter in Alexander Frenkel.

Rico Hoye (20-2) of Detroit would have to be one of the favorites though only fighting at the light heavyweight level and losing by stoppage in both of his losses. He was stopped in 2005 by Clinton Woods for the vacant IBF title in England and in his last fight to unbeaten Romanian Adrian Diaconu in a WBC eliminator match in 2007 in Montreal.

Troy Ross (17-1) of Guyana is a southpaw living in Toronto who has won his last 5 matches. He has had matches in the US and England and is one to watch in this tournament. Ehinomen “Hino” Ehikhamenor (12-3) from Benin and now living in Queens has lost 3 of his last 4 fights including a 12 round bout to former champion Herbie Hide in his last fight in Spain. He had won his first 11 matches before losing to a pair of fellow African fighters in Patrick Nwamu (9-1) and Daniel Sackey (9-1-1) in the US.

Ryan “The Irish Outlaw” Coyne (9-0) of St. Louis could be on this week’s hit list due to his inexperience and having never fought beyond 6 rounds. Lawrence Tauasa (30-5-1) of Sydney, Australia, has won his last 6 matches and the PABA title in his last one and could be one to watch. Tim Flamos (20-4-1) of Brockton is the oldest competitor at 41. Retiring in 2003, he came back in 2006 and has fought 5 bouts at 6 rounds winning 3 of them. He did reverse one of those losses in his last fight.

Tony Danza has replaced “Sugar” Ray Leonard in the lead role as overseer on the show. Danza was (9-3, 9 KO) a former boxer himself from 1976-79 out of New York. Back again is trainer Tommy Brooks. The highlight of his amateur career was while representing the Air Force in 1975 he defeated Michael Spinks who would win a gold medal in 1976. A new trainer this year is John Bray. Bray had a very good amateur career (124-12) and after 20 pro bouts suffered a near fatal stroke ending his boxing.

The finale will be February 25th. Wednesday 10pm (EST) will be the 5th in 11 episodes.

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