Contender Four, Week Four -
Blue and Gold Tied at Two Each

By Barbara Pinnella

The fourth episode of The Contender aired on New Yearís Eve, and I will write a short review of that program. There will not be any interviews until next week so the men can enjoy their holiday, and I hope to speak with boxers from both weeks at that time.

Back in the third show of the season it was Akinyemi ďA.K.Ē Laleye who broke through and won Team Goldís first fight. He was able to choose his fight for the second round, and he slid his name in the slot with Alfredo Escalera, Jr. He made some offhanded excuse for wanting that fight by saying that Escalera was homesick and for that reason, a pushover. Alfredo took exception to that, and made some crack of his own about A.K.ís Nigerian heritage. While it was Laleye who threw that proverbial first punch, he couldnít take it when Escalera answered back, and got quite upset about it. Alfredo stayed a lot calmer about the incident, and it will be interesting to see if emotions play into the outcome of that fight, when it occurs.

The Blue Teamís leader John Bray made sure that his charges knew why Erick Vega lost his fight against A.K.; he didnít listen. That seems to be a continuing theme running through the first three fights. So far each man who has come out on the losing end of their fights has seemed to box with their own agenda in mind, and that just hasnít worked.

While trainer Tommy Brooks is happy to now have the power of choice, he points out that his Team Gold is still one behind. It is important to win this next fight, and it is Deon Elam who is responsible for trying to make that happen. His opponent of choice? Well, it was between Michael Alexander and Richard Gingras, and the nod went to Gingras. Deon felt that Richard should make an easy target for him.

Round one seemed to prove that Deon was right. Richard looked slow and plodding, a brawler type who was getting caught by a lot of Elamís punches. But as the fight continued, Gingras held his ground and started answering back with punches of his own. Round three brought more of the same. While it was obvious that Deon was the more skilled fighter at this point, Richard was not going down without a fight, pardon the pun.

By round four Elam must have been wondering why he didnít pick Alexander after all. Gingras was not a pushover, and he certainly hit hard enough that, had he landed that one big punch, Deon might, as Brooks said earlier, ďBe looking at the lights.Ē

In round five both men would throw some flurries, then hold. Even since the third round, they looked tired off and on during the fight, and both of them were content to do some holding. But a fight that looked to be an easy victory for Elam beforehand had proved to be quite different.

At the end, and even though the scorecards had it 50-45, 49-46, and 48-47 and a unanimous decision in the favor of Deon Elam, Gingras fought an amazingly good fight. Should he have won? No, but he earned the respect of those there, and he certainly surprised me. He showed tenacity and toughness, and I expect to see him again in the future.

So now it is tied up, with Blue and Gold having two wins each. Four fights left before moving on to the second round. I am waiting to see the 41-year-old Tim Flamos fight. Iím also curious to find out of Hino Ehikhamenor will face Ryan Coyne. Those two have been gunning for each other for some time now. So remember, another fight next week, and hopefully two interviews.

Be safe and God Bless,

Viva La Raza,