It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for The Contender reality show. It started on NBC in 2005, and went to ESPN for its second and third runs. The program, which was hatched to great fanfare by Survivor creator Mark Burnett, featured some decent hitters, solid vets and former prospects. In contrast, this fourth, and perhaps final season, featured cruiserweights, the William Baldwin of weight divisions, and ran on Versus, not a cable heavyweight.
That said, no one can rain on Troy Ross’ parade, not after he stopped Hino Ehikhamenor in the fourth round of The Contender television show finale at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut on Wednesday evening.
Ehikhamenor (age 28; 193 pounds; from New York) brought a 15-3 record in with him while Ross (age 33; 194 pounds; from Toronto) was 20-1. With the stoppage victory, Ross joins Sergio Mora, Grady Brewer and Sakio Bika as Contender champs.
“I was getting stronger after every round,” Ross said afterwards. The boxer beat Lawrence Tauasa and Felix Cora by KO during the Contender tournament and beat Akinyemi Laleye to reach the finals. Hino said he was disappointed by the stop, but his mood was surprisingly upbeat as he talked afterwards. He regretted going back to the ropes, where he got caught.
Ross, a lefty, was wary of Hino’s right. Both men were a bit tight in the first. In the second, the two started whaling more. Both men slipped well, though, and accuracy wasn’t top tier. The two fighters’ rhythm didn’t click early. But Ross got busy in the fourth. He flurried on Hino, starting off with a left high on the head, another left follow which sent Hino backward, and seven unanswered blows which caused referee Steve Smoger, never one quick with the hook, to halt the scrap. A right hook turned Hino’s head and sent Smoger scurrying to break it up. The time was 2:00 of the fourth.
Nick Charles, Wally Matthews and Contender host Tony Danza worked the show.
Michigan’s Rico Hoye (22-3 entering; age 34; 199 pounds) met Nigerian Akinyemil Laleye (12-2 entering; age 27; 194 pounds) in the TV opener. They battled for third place for the season. AK was hurt in the third by a body shot. Could he turn it around? The two mostly banged at close range, and the judges picked the winner. They all scored it 79-72, for the more experienced Hoye, who was expected to win the whole shebang.
Lefty Felix Cora (19-3 entering; age 29; 200 pounds; from Texas) took on Tim Flamos (20-5 coming in; age 41; from Massachusetts; 195 pounds) in a prelim. Flamos is a standup banger, a no frills type. He landed a couple heavy rights, and surprised Cora with his power. Cora jammed home his left, and the right for that matter, on the defensively challenged Flamos in round two. In the third, Cora was hurt by a right hand. He buckled but kept banging away. He ate uppercuts, and rights high on the head, and went down. He got up at immediately, reeling. But his legs were jello, and the ref said no deal. The time of the TKO win for Cora was 1:57.