By Cliff Rold

Last week, the competition bid farewell to the personable Tim Flamos and Mike Alexander.  This week, it says goodbye to the team format.

Proving that nothing brings out the deep philosophy like athletics, Ryan Coyne opened the show sizing up his win over Flamos last week with, “Winners find a way to win.” 


In review of the completed team round, we recall the standings so far as:


Mike Alexander (12-3, 8 KO) - Eliminated

Felix Cora Jr. (19-2-2, 9 KO) - Advancing

Ryan Coyne (10-0, 3 KO) - Advancing

Alfredo Escalera Jr. (16-1-1, 11 KO) - Advancing

Richard Gingras (9-1, 5 KO) - Eliminated

Lawrence Tauasa (30-5-1, 17 KO) - Eliminated

Erick Vega (8-2-1, 6 KO) - Eliminated

Darnell Wilson (23-7-3, 20 KO) - Eliminated


Joell Godfrey (9-1-1, 5 KO) - Eliminated

Deon Elam (9-0, 5 KO) - Advancing

Rico Hoye (21-2, 15 KO) - Advancing

Akinyemi Laleye (10-1, 5 KO) - Advancing

Ehinomen Ehikhamenor (12-3, 7 KO) - Advancing

Tim Flamos (20-5-1, 8 KO) - Eliminated

Troy Ross (17-1, 12 KO) - Advancing

Jon Schneider (7-3-1, 5 KO) – Eliminated

This week, the quarterfinals begin.  The bracket stands at:

Felix Cora Jr. vs. Troy Ross

Akenyemi Laleye vs. Alfredo Escalara

Deon Elam vs. Ehinomen Ehikhamenor

Rico Hoye vs. Ryan Coyne

Cue the Contender music….

Episode Eight Recap

Ryan Coyne gets stitches in the wake of his rough five rounds, tending matching wounds on both eyes.  Back at camp, Flamos’ former Gold Teammates reflect on his defeat.  Layele expresses his dismay with pitched emotions and some well time profanities.  Ross simply recounts telling Flamos, “you got all of our respect.”

Layele is the more entertaining of the two heading to commercials.

A lonely piano plays against fast forwarding, peppered clouds as Coyne prepares to choose his next opponent.  Blue Coach Bray worries about the injuries Coyne has sustained noting, “it’s a long cut, it’s very deep and it’s in a bad area.”  At the tournament board, Hoye and Coyne slide their names into the final two slots, meaning Coyne has the most possible time to heal and the piano was just a little misplaced. 

Ultimately, it is replaced with some soft bass while Tony Danza lays out a pep talk and introduces TV daughter Alyssa Milano to record Contender ratings!

Ok, not really.

Danza observes that each of the quarterfinalists is “one step from the semi-finals” before setting out on Singapore with the fellas.  A boat tour and national landmarks follow.  Ross provides that the boat ride, “took the stress off of me and it took the stress off a lot of the boxers.”  A nice boat ride can do that after all as can a roll on a gigantic Ferris Wheel, another destination before a trip to a local restaurant.

Danza recounts a story of how Boxing put him where he ended up in life.  A tale of two knockdowns and a come from behind knockout in front of the eyes of the producers of Taxi was told with genuine emotion, reminding viewers how much of an improvement Danza is over previous host Ray Leonard.  The fighters on the show through the years have all been closer what Danza was, a guy looking for a break who found Boxing, and he just comes off more as one of the guys. 

The next return from commercial is even more dramatic than the last as lighting crashes against a lonely grove of trees and we get some horns played over pictures of the remaining contestants.  The fighters, safely home, stop and take note of these new pictures which are actually hanging on the wall.  “It’s crazy to see yourself in a still moment in a battle.”  Escalera says, and one wonders what he feels like when he looks at not only his own photos but those of his father.  Viewers can see and hear the young man’s deep feelings as a care package of photos of his daughter is opened.

Rico Hoye tops the quiet reserve of Escalera when he leaps and yells in joy at his own new ultrasound photos from the wife back home in the States.

A training montage follows to prepare for the looming showdown between Ross and Felix Cora, a lamentable afterthought in the rest of the episode.  Gold trainer Tommy Brooks sums up the match with, “the first one that makes a mistake…good night sweet prince.”

Back from another round of ads, Cora reads a note to Escalera he received from a job back home, a dramatic (real drama) representation to viewers of the reality of most fighters.  Folks hear pro and think Oscar when the truth is most pro fighters keep a day job to make their bills.  Cora’s desire for victory becomes a desire to stay out of the want ads on the eve of what promises to be a tough affair.

With the fight approaching, Ross relaxes in the locker room with a shirt bearing the legend ‘I’m Gonna’ Ross You Up.’  Cora bluntly observes, “I have nothing to go back to.”

“This is no game.”  Bray reminds Cora.  “You don’t play Boxing.”  The pep talks continue on both sides…then the mitt work…more pep talking…a building crescendo of Contender theme music…more pep talking…and more…and, finally, ring walks.

“My nickname is Bad News because I’m here to deliver bad news,” declares Cora, a hint of irony present given his own receipt of just that hours earlier.  “I’m doing this for…everyone who believes in Troy Ross,” his opponent offers in mentioning his family back home.


Round One

Both men begin with pawing jabs as they shake the early nerves.  Cora is focusing his jab low from a crouch as Ross fights tall with hands high.  A right to the body lands for Ross but without much mustard.  Cora doubles the jab to the chest and stomach and not much happens until Ross gets through with a lead right in a flurry of shots.  Cora ducks and seems to be loading up a big shot only to leave himself open to a crisp left hook to the temple which first wobbles Cora’s knees and then sees his body fold backwards towards the floor.  He rises before ten, shaky, and the referee declares him unfit to continue.

It’s no secret, the bad turn cast on Cora not only in unemployment but in losing his home to 2008’s weather calamities in Texas.  Brooks reassures Ross with, “You did what you had to do.” 

“Nice shot, Troy.” Cora offers with dignity.

“It’s an amazing feeling…I was expecting five hard rounds of Boxing…Today I got an early checkmate and I’m very proud of myself.”  Ross states, his second straight tournament knockout secured.

“This was my opportunity and I didn’t step up to the plate.”  Cora states in the post-fight interview.  “You work so hard to put yourself in this position to just let it go like that.”  Bray joins him, offering support and help if he should need it down the road. 

“All I can do is keep my head up and keep going.”  Cora concludes, his gloves the latest to reside on the wall of the eliminated in one of the best episodes in the history of the show. 

Episode Eight Rating: 10 out of 10

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at