Episode four of season two of “The Contender” was televised on ESPN on Tuesday, August 1. It introduced audiences to Walter “Two Guns” Wright of Seattle, Washington.
Anyone who saw Wright easily defeat Andre “Daredevil” Eason of Brooklyn, New York, by a unanimous five round decision has to consider him a frontrunner to make it to the finals.
The 25-year-old Wright, who fought most of his career as a junior middleweight, raised his record to 11-0 (5 KOS), while the overmatched 30-year-old Eason saw his ledger dip to 15-5 (6 KOS).
Early in the show, before the night’s contestants were even picked, Wright was playing mind games with Eason.
While working the pads and shadowboxing, Wright looked every bit a future champion. He pointed out that Eason, who appeared to be a bit heavy in the trunk, seemed disinterested in training and was ripe for the picking.
As Eason left the ring after going through the motions of a pad session, a smirking Wright sarcastically told him that he looked like a champ.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. A few minutes later Eason was shown shadowboxing well after midnight while his teammates slept soundly. You just knew then and there that his eleventh hour fitness efforts would prove to be too little too late.
Although it was still not announced who was fighting on this night, it was obvious that if Eason was selected his chances of winning would be slim.
When Wright, who was representing the gold team, selected Eason as his opponent, Eason looked like a deer in the headlights. It seemed as if the only thing that was going to get him through the night was a miracle.
His delightful teammate, a religious young man from Detroit named Cornelius Bundrage, who beat the favored Michael Clark in episode one, tried to instill confidence in Eason by reading him excerpts from the Book of Job.
While the inspiration of Job did not help Eason emerge victorious, it did enable him to survive a brutal first round knockdown that Wright brought on by landing a wicked left hook to the body followed by a pulverizing hook to the jaw.
The fact that Eason even survived the round was a miracle. When he came out swinging for the fences and more than held his own in round two, it seemed that Job’s resilience and durability might have rubbed off on him.
In round three, the once-again red-hot Wright was having his way with Eason. Alfonso Gomez, the fan favorite from season one, observed that Wright was purposely “letting him live until the last round.”
If that assessment was correct, Wright was availing himself the opportunity to display his tremendous talents to a wide audience. You certainly couldn’t blame him if that was true, but maybe Eason was just a lot tougher than anyone could have imagined.
Sugar Ray Leonard loved Wright’s cockiness and even compared his arm and fist gesticulations to his own arch-rival Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns.
There is little doubt that Leonard likes what he sees in Wright. The more you look at him, the less there is to dislike.
Wright’s talents are not confined to the ring. Among many other things, he is also a classical piano player and the doting father of a young son named Trivon.
Even though Seattle is not exactly a boxing hotbed, Wright, who was a fine athlete, chose to box rather than compete in more popular sports that he was good at. In high school, he says, he was the only student who boxed competitively.
The only notable fighters to hail from Seattle in recent times are light heavyweight contender Eddie Cotton, who campaigned from 1947-67, and former IBF lightweight champion Greg Haugen, who managed and trained Wright for four fights early in his career.
Wright now manages himself because he believes that no one can better represent his interests to promoters than he can.
Growing up the way he did, Wright was forced to be his own man at a young age. Coming from a broken home, he moved in with an uncle at the age of 13 after his father was sentenced to a prison term in Arkansas.
After being released from jail several years later, Wright and his uncle welcomed Wright’s father into their home. He responded by absconding with anything of value. Father and son no longer talk.
As an amateur Wright won five state Golden Gloves titles, even while working in a fast food restaurant to support himself.
He was stopped by Matt O’Brien, who was 2-0, in the third round of his May 2003 pro debut. An overconfident Wright was winning handily when he walked into a knockout punch.
Incidentally, O’Brien, who hails from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is now 16-0 (7 KOS).
Wright still exudes overconfidence, which was on display when he showboated against Eason. If he continues to showboat, he could find himself in big trouble against some of his more experienced prospective opponents on the show.
Hopefully Wright is intelligent enough to not let that be his undoing. Besides being extremely engaging, he is a very entertaining fighter and the word quit is not in his vocabulary.
When he failed to make the cut for season one because the producers did not think he had enough experience to be competitive, he went out and rattled off ten straight victories in less than two years.
When he got the nod for season two, he couldn’t have been happier or more confident. Having endured a very difficult childhood, he is determined to carve out a better life for him and his son.
If the show garners him the fame and fortune that he hopes for, it will prove just how wonderful boxing can be. The sport was made for life’s underdogs like Wright.
For a rabid fan and an armchair psychologist like me, Wright’s emergence as a force to be reckoned with only makes my life more difficult.
There are already too many seemingly wonderful representatives of the sweet science to root for on the show. With Wright’s decision over Eason, we just got another. What is one to do?