Contender Four, Week Six -
Tauasa Suffers First Ever KO

By Barbara Pinnella

We certainly saw a lot on this week’s episode, including friends becoming foes, a huge TKO, and another fight sealed for the second round.

By winning his fight of last week, it was time for Ehinomen “Hino” Ehikhanemor to pick his fight for round two. I don’t know if they just showed us more this time, but it seemed as if Hino had a lot more trouble choosing his opponent than had other fighters. The spot underneath Felix Cora, Jr. was open, as was his teammates, Deon Elam. Or he could slide his name in the last group, where there were no names yet. Ultimately, he chose to go with his teammate, Elam. We now have that fight made, as well as the one between Alfredo Escalero, Jr. going against Akinyemi “AK” Laleye. Cora still does not have an opponent, and the last fight is open.

In a rather funny moment, trainer for Gold, Tommy Brooks, really had a good time making fun of Hino, who was crying after his win last week. In fact, most of the men enjoyed busting his chops about that, but Hino let it roll off him, saying he was a sensitive guy and it didn’t matter to him.

With Gold staying in control yet again, it was decided that Canada’s Troy Ross would be the next to fight. He picked his good friend Lawrence Tauasa to be his opponent, because he thought this would be a good fight and make it necessary for him to raise his game. Tauasa felt the same way, stating that, “I have love and respect for Troy and I had to step my game up too, with Troy being a two-time Olympian for Canada. Troy knows what he’s doing in the ring.”

Everyone was excited with this match-up and thought that the boxers would easily make this an interesting fight. There was the aggressive southpaw in Troy (17-1-0, 12 KO’s), and the former rugby star in Lawrence (30-5-1, 17 KO’s), who fought to a record of 130-13 as an amateur.

Round one was a pretty decent round. Both men got in a little offense, even though they were also feeling out their opponents. “In the first round I did pick up on some of his stuff,” Tauasa told me.

It was in round two that things went wrong for Lawrence. He got hit with a powerful right hook, and got up on the eight count, slowly. “It was the first time that happened. I have never been stopped like that in my whole boxing career of 15 years. Everybody told me that I took my time getting up, but I don’t know if I took my time getting up or if it was just being dropped for the first time and not knowing what to do afterwards.”

Regardless, the fight was allowed to continue, for a short time anyway. After taking several other hits without being able to defend himself, the referee stopped the fight, handing Lawrence his first TKO.

“I wanted to fight the best,” he said to me. “And to me, Troy was the best there was on the Gold Team. I mean, there was Troy and Rico (Hoye), and I was happy that Troy called me out. He did a fantastic job, and that’s boxing. I wouldn’t mind doing it again.”

Now that he is back in Australia, I wondered what Lawrence really missed, besides the obvious of not being the Contender Champion. Most of all, Tauasa misses the boys, and the camaraderie that goes along with that. “You know, having fun, talking. I’ve made friends for life from The Contender; all the boys in there, and the trainers, Tommy Brooks and John Bray, Tony Danza, everything about the house, the crew.”

On the show Lawrence had said that his Contender experience was the best one of his boxing career, and he still feels that way. “Of course. Many of those who have been on seasons one, two, and three have become household names. For me and the other 15 men, we have a chance for that. And we’ve become friends for life. We’re like brothers.”

Next week is a doubleheader, with two fights to see. Now that Ross has won for Team Gold, their power of choice is doubled. They get to make the matches for both of the remaining fights. After next week we will know what all of the match-ups will be for the second round of competition.

And, for anyone who might be wondering, Tauasa has been married for a month now. I want to congratulate he and his new bride Beatrice on their wedding, and thank him for taking time out to speak with me.

Be safe and God Bless,

Viva La Raza,