Contender 2 Finale: Underdog Brewer Takes The Prize

BY Michael Woods ON September 26, 2006
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The time has come. The reality is real for Steve Forbes and Grady Brewer, the reality show is done.

It sounds like the Staples Center is jumping for the Contender 2 finale.

Away we go…

Did I hear right? The singer of our anthem’s name is Storm Large? Indeed, I Googled her, and she’s fresh off the reality program Supernova. Good pipes, bad name…

Get the paddles ready for the ring announcer: bless him, he’s blessed with monster lungs, but I fear he’ll have a stroke as he announces Nito Bravo’s name.

Whew…exhale…no stroke or heart attack. Good deal.

Bravo and K9, not a fan fave, are battling first for the bronze. It’s scheduled for eight. Tess and Teddy are calling the action. Scheduled for eight…

Damn, on Aug. 6, K9’s sister Denise was murdered. Condolences from TSS go out to Bundrage…

Hey, nice that they put the other Contenders in the front row, and didn’t relegate them to the upper reaches of the joint. Or make them do a challenge for the right to a good seat. Sponsored by Toyota, of course…

Bundrage stands up like an 80s era Euro fighter. Bend that spine son, it’s OK, it’s permissible in the rulebook…

K9’s jab is improved, looks to me. K9 gets a knockknock at the end of the second. His eyes look OK in the corner. The ref  tells him to show something in between rounds…

“Boxing gives an opportunity and a life to these young men,” Atlas reminds the abolitionists…

Bravo looks 35, every minute of it. K9 has the edge in strength and vitality.

Bravo’s jab is listless.

Steve Forbes is in his dressing room and checks in with the boys. He’s got a sweat up and BK informs us and asks Forbes if he knows that if there’s a draw, we’ll go to an extra round. They do that on the UFC reality show on Spike. Do purists beef with that? Big whup, the times they are a changin’. The times aren’t changing for Bravo; he’s still taking punishment and looks like he just doesn’t have it on this night. Bad timing. Aging has a way of insuring that off nights happen more frequently than they used to.

Joe T comments on the K9 improved jab, too…

Six rounds in, still haven’t seen the Ballettos interact. A pet peeve—undimmed house lights. I don’t have ADD or anything but I often end up studying the people in the front rows. It’s worse when they show Ali-Wepner from Cleveland and all the pimp daddies are in da house...I digress, forgive me…perhaps I do have ADD…what was I saying?

K9 is getting rough and the ref don’t like it…

Doesn’t matter. A poor but brave performance by Bravo, Teddy says, as the ref steps in and stops it in the seventh round. Stop comes at 2:22. K9 postures to the crowd and some boo. He got the Contender bronze. Good stop by ref Russell.

Hey, it’s a Rocky Balboa sneak preview. BK does a voiceover! AJ Benza appears! I’m in! They got my $10.50, no doubt!

K9 (24-2) talks to the boys. His son stands in front of him. Tess talks about his sister’s murder, and he says he’s happy to win for his sis and he’s so pumped to be in the co-main event. I found my identity, K9 tells Teddy and Atlas agrees.

On to the main event, with $500,000 going to the winner, minus the IRS cut. I haven’t heard of anyone picking Brewer. Where are the contrarians?

Whoa, solid product placement. Forbes and Grady visit the Toyota plant, as the Contender theme plays. Brewer will give the car to his rents if he wins it, he says. Seamless!

We get an intro to the finalists.

Brewer works in a tire plant, we’re told. But now he’s able to train properly so he promises a different fighter than the guy who has lost 11 bouts.  Forbes says he’ll make Grady take risks.

Forbes is next. He says he’s small but solid. It’s not the meat it’s the motion, right? Brewer says he’s bigger, stronger, faster.

Next, some commercials. My TiVo is caught up, so I’m watching the commercials. First time in awhile. How long before most people have a DVR and the advertising model has to change, and everything is a product placement inserted into the program or flashed onscreen during the show? Sorry, my ADD again. Feel free to ignore my sidebars as you would an ad…

Forbes strolls to the ring first. The theme plays. Did I forget to tell you I played that at my wedding? Yes, we appeared as husband and wife as the Rocky theme played…The wedding facility maitre d’ suggested it and the DJ had the CD, so I said what the hey.

Brewer comes in next. The hood of his robe is too large and covers his eyes. How often do we see that? Pet peeve No. 2…

Ring announcer will bellow again and fingers are crossed he doesn’t clutch his chest.

Both guys weight 149.

Forbes is 32-3. Tommy G is in his corner, whispering calming, inspirational nothings.

Brewer is 21-11.

Whew, the ring announcer made it through without the paddles having to come out. Good deal.

In the first, the two try to figure out rhythms and ponder openings. Brewer doesn’t look overwhelmed by the stakes.  Forbes is slick defensively. Pretty tight round, nothing conclusive landed. Punchstats show an edge for Brewer, though.

In the second, Grady lands some rights. Forbes wows the crowd and the judges with a left hook. Brewer outworks Forbes.

On to the third. Brewer has a nice game plan going. He’s moving smartly and he looks like the more youthful, energized man. But Forbes has done this dance many, many times. Perhaps the vet is just letting his joints warm up, assessing his foe, luring the less experienced man into deep, dangerous water, letting him think he has a functional life preserver, which he’ll yank away from him down the river. Teddy sees it Brewer, 29-28 to this point.

On to four. More hugging this round. Tight round. Nothing clean and obvious scored in obvious fashion.

We go to five. Sergio Mora’s in the booth. Forbes tosses a hard right. Again, too much clinching. Forbes is fighting Grady’s fight: it ain’t pretty and Forbes needs to use his feet, get angles. That’s hard, Brewer charges at you, tossing as he charges.

In between, Mora discusses the bout with the voices. He says Forbes will show something big late.

In the sixth, Grady ties to establish the jab. Atlas says 49-47 Brewer to this point.  The smaller man, Forbes, looks lost as he’s enveloped into Brewer’s bulk. 107-70 edge for Brewer in punches landed to this point. Brewer ain’t pretty, but he’s pretty effective. The crowd agrees on the former point—they boo some.

Where’s Gallagher in-between rounds? Is this the same production crew that worked the series? I doubt it, because they know Tommy’s gold in-between rounds.

Ah, here we go. “It’s crunch time now,” G says.

“Steve, you need to get busy,” his wife says.

On to seven.  Atlas likes Brewer, 59-56 so far. It’s inside fighting and Brewer imposes his will and size on the smaller guy. Forbes needs to get angles but Grady is too pesky and in his face. Teddy agrees. “No mobility shown tonight,” is his take on Forbes. But to me it’s more a function of Grady’s energy and size. A spirited trade ends the round.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints looks like a good flick, or the trailer looks good, with that KISS song, NY Groove, being used smartly to entice me…

We kick off the eighth. Time’s a wasting for Forbes. Production has dropped the ball with no Gallagher, but I get it, this is a business and they have to show ads. This fight is not a pleasant melding of styles for the fan, I will say that. More boos from the fans. Do we still call them fans when they boo? The customers, we’ll call them. The disapproving customers. Teddy talks about the silent contract for the first time. Not a good style matchup, too bad.

It’s time for nine. Who will show the urgency that’s called for? 78-75 Brewer is Teddy’s call to this point. “A lot of nondescript rounds,” Atlas says. Brewer pops the jab. And they hug. “Not a lot of action the last several rounds,” Atlas says, disapprovingly. Can we allow the IRS to take a bigger cut as punishment? Grady lands a left. Forbes flails badly. Grady raises his hand post-round.

Gallagher says they need the round, “this fight is even.” He tells Forbes to get correct distance. Atlas busts on Gallagher’s swearing, which is dumped anyway. “Forbes may need the round but we did not need that language,” he says. Tess doesn’t react at all. Lot of water under that bridge, people. Teddy slams Tommy in his book…

The tenth and final round. “Who will grab it?” Tess asks. Brewer’s clumsy charges are to his advantage. The well schooled Forbes hasn’t seen this sort of style in years. Forbes flurries, too little, too late, IMO. We’ll see. Boxing judges have been known to hand in cards that bear no relation to reality, I call them Richard Flahertys.

Brewer thinks he has it, Gallagher looks bummed.

Misfire. The broadcast runs overtime. Luckily, I taped the show after this one.

The scores are in: 97-93 Brewer,  96-94 Forbes and the tiebreaker is 96-94 for the new Contender champion…and my TiVo cut out.

Blast this newfangled technology!

I had to press play on the next show, which is SportsCenter, to find out that Grady Brewer gets the dough. A split decision win.

BK interviews the combatants after Leonard congratulates Brewer and hands him the Contender belt.

The two hug it out, which is sort of fitting, since they clinched quite a bit.

Grady thanks God, and he says he will work harder, and establish himself like SRL did. He thanks the Contender for the opportunity. Hey, he’s 35 and works 12 hour shifts in a tire factory, good for Grady. Fight kind of sucked but I say it again, it was the clash of styles more than anything.

Forbes talks to BK. He’s bummed but accepting. “He fought a perfect game plan,” Forbes said. “I thought it was a very close fight and thought it could have gone either way. I thought I won the fight but everybody is entitled to their opinion and he fought a hell of a fight.”

He did fight a smart fight.

It wasn’t a hell of a fight, but it was an effective strategy, and that’s why Grady Brewer is the Contender 2 champion.

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