Felix Cora, Jr.
"I Just Have to Roll With the Punches."

By Barbara Pinnella

I had to do this interview with Felix Cora, Jr. a week late, but I wanted you to know a little bit about this man. He had to face a lot more than just being a contestant on The Contender. Hurricane Ike had struck and destroyed his home town of Galveston, Texas, and he could only communicate with loved ones by phone, and not often at that.

He was also terminated from his job, and he read his termination letter to Alfredo Escalera, Jr. on one of the programs. But he knew he was to be let go when he went to Singapore, since he was aware that he would be gone more than the 10 day condition of his leave. “Actually they asked me to bring the letter with me,” he told me. “That way they could use it during the program, so that’s what I did.”

I wondered how much these other distractions interfered with his ability to fight. “Very little, actually,” he answered. “I was using it as a motivation to carry me through the show. However, I did wonder how things were going back at home, and I knew my time had expired with the situation with my job. But I couldn’t focus on that. I just would read the letter to remind me of what was at stake.”

The fight that he won and got him into the second round was against Joell Godfrey. “I thought it was a pretty competitive fight,” he recalled. “But I didn’t expect to dominate it the way I did, but apparently it happened that way. I thought it was going to be more of a strategic battle between Joell and myself, but I just took what Joell gave me. I happened to be awarded the victory.”

By winning the first fight of the tournament, Cora had the opportunity to slide his name into any of the slots for the second round. He chose to fight first, but would have been happy to fight sooner than that. “I would have liked to fight a day or two after that one (the fight he won) just to keep the momentum going. If I’m not mistaken there were a couple of weeks that went by. So much could happen in that time gap, so would have liked to step in a lot sooner.”

His fight in round two was against Troy Ross, and I think most people were expecting this to be a really good one. But at 2:38 of the first round, Ross connected with a hard left to the temple and just like that, it’s over.

Cora had no excuses. “I believe I fought the fight strategically wrong. I should have gone in and fought that one the same way I fought Joell. I was caught with a shot that I didn’t see. At the time it happened my main thought was to get to my feet and pay attention exactly to what the ref’s instructions were. I wanted to do everything that I could to give the impression that I was OK. Apparently, the referee didn’t see it that way.”

Felix still believes that he could have gone on. “I think the fight was stopped a bit prematurely. That’s not just me, but everyone else that has seen it, they thought the same. But I can’t complain about that situation. I can’t blame the judge, because I understand their reason for being there is to protect the fighter.”

Cora agreed that he and Ross are somewhat alike. “Troy’s a real humble guy and a very dedicated fighter such as myself. We’re sort of similar in some ways. I would love to be rescheduled down the line and have a rematch.”

Unlike a lot of the fighters Felix has not kept in touch with the others. “My main focus when I made it back here was to help with things related to the storm and get myself back where I needed to be – straighten out my situation to where I wouldn’t have to worry about things so much.

“As the weeks go on,” he continued, “the town’s getting better. It may be awhile before it’s back where it was before the storm that devastated everything, but as the weeks go by I see that the people are pulling together and working together. That’s good, and it may be a blessing because there’ll be a lot of new houses and new businesses. It could be a plus rather than a negative.”

He then spoke about his time on the show. “Just to be presented with the opportunity to participate in something of that magnitude was an awesome experience. And then to be chosen among the cast of elite fighters such as the ones that I participated with…and to see a different way of living, different customs, see how people carried themselves in a different part of the world was an eye-opening experience. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had. I enjoyed everything about it. It was awesome.”

I wish Felix all the best in whatever he chooses, and thank him for his time.

Be safe and God Bless,

Viva La Raza,