[NOTE: This recap was written by your usual recapper, the legendary Phat32. His typing fingers float like butterflies and sting like bees, but he cannot log in right now. Enjoy!]
As Peter Manfredo celebrates his win over Joey Gilbert, he earns his place as the third of the Final Four. Out of the Final Four, two will go on to fight for the $1 million purse at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, by process of elimination, Anthony Bonsante and Jesse Brinkley are scheduled to fight for the final vacant spot in the Final Four.
Peter Manfredo, Jr., stands in the ring, victorious over his opponent Joey Gilbert, last seen leaving The Contender in the back of an ambulance.
Manfredo tells the camera: "My heart goes out to Joey."
(I don't know about his "heart," but his fists sure went out to Joey.)
Manfredo's father approaches his son in the ring and mutters something. I rewind it twice to try and understand what he's saying, but it's meaningless because of Manfredo's East Coast accent. Even the subtitle guy (or gal) refuses to work when Manfredo is featured.
Manfredo then blames his first loss (to Alfonso Gomez in the first Contender bout) on the fact his father was absent. Manfredo has come to depend on Pappy as his trainer, you see.
I think that's just an excuse. My father was too busy working to show up for my third-grade Father-Son Picnic, and you don't see me crying about it. And, hell, I was disqualified from the three-legged race.
As Manfredo hits the shower after the fight, he talks about how he lives for his wife and his daughter. Mark this well. It's the 700th time a Contender boxer has discussed his family.
It's Always "My Kids" This, or "My Kids" That, with Bonsante
Meanwhile, back in Contender Loft, Sergio Mora, Anthony Bonsante and Jesse Brinkley are discussing the Manfredo/Gilbert bout.
"I think [Brinkley] wanted Joey to learn a lesson," Bonsante tells the camera. (Jesse Brinkley was the matchmaker for the Manfredo bout.)
Manfredo walks back into the loft to shouts of, "Champion's here!"
Brinkley sits down with Manfredo and wonders aloud how Gilbert could have received a gash that bloody from a headbutt between the two men, but Manfredo walked away unscathed.
Next, Bonsante is having dinner with his mother and two children (whose names may have been mentioned at some point, but who knows?).
"[Brinkley] calls me 'Hairy,' and I call him 'Stinkley,'" Bonsante says. Those would be creative nicknames...if this show were called Fifth Grade Contender.
Bonsante works the 9:30 to 6 shift and wants to spend more time with his kids.
Good gravy, every other phrase out of this guy's mouth is "my kids."
"Waitress my kids I'd like my kids to have the chicken fried steak my kids with a side of mashed my kids potatoes. I'll take cherry cobbler my kids for dessert. And my kids will have the my kids My Kids' Special. Does that come with my kids a My Kids' Toy...?"
It's gotten to the point that I just copy and paste the phrase "my kids" into Word clipboard and have it at the ready when I write about Bonsante.
That's Not a Trainer...This Is a Trainer
While the remaining boxers train in the gym, salsa music plays in the background. Why salsa? Why, Tommy wants to demonstrate how the best boxers he's seen dance and move while they're in the ring.
I don't know about the boxers he's trying to imitate, but Tommy looks like he's having a seizure.
Sly gathers all the fighters and presents Manfredo with...some type of necklace. (Is that an even bigger pair of boxing gloves?) This signifies Manfredo's place in the Final Four, alongside Alfonso Gomez and Sergio Mora.
As his reward, Manfredo meets legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, who has trained champions such as Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and our very own Sugar Ray Leonard.
Isn't this like rewarding someone for his hard work by giving him...more hard work?
Nevertheless, Manfredo seems speechless and flattered. I supposed I would be the same way, too, if I met the patron saint of my occupation.
"Hi, phat32, I heard you do IT work."
Me: "Wow! Bill Gates!"
Gates: "That's right. What do you say we do what IT people do best?"
Gates: "Let's take a three-hour lunch, ignore our voicemails and knock off around 3:30 to catch the matinée at the movie theater."
Dundee sits with Manfredo while he reviews the tape of the fight. Dundee comments on Manfredo's skill throughout the viewing, but Manfredo is so nervous and starstruck in Dundee's presence that he doesn't hear a thing Dundee is saying. That makes two of us, pal, for entirely different reasons.
Dundee then invites Manfredo into the ring to give him a few pointers, which seems to consist largely of "Lead with your left shoulder" and "Don't take no punches." Great advice.
Hurry Up and Weight
Back at Contender Loft, Jesse Brinkley looks worried.
"I have to lose ten pounds, I have a hurt hamstring and I'm an emotional mess today."
Wait, did I accidentally switch the channel from The Contender to The Bachelor? I mean, what the hell...?
"He's not in the game right now," Bonsante observes Brinkley.
We learn that Bald Corner Guy has a name: Jeremy Williams. I don't care. He'll always be "Bald Corner Guy" to me.
So Bald Corner Guy talks to the camera and criticizes Jesse's lack of self-control. Apparently, Jesse eats and gains weight and doesn't take care of himself. Brinkley risks disqualification if he can't weigh-in at 160 lbs. or less.
Brinkley is 8 lbs. overweight and puts on a garbage bag-like suit to run and try to sweat out 1 gallon of water weight, reasoning that 1 gallon of water weighs 8 lbs.
At weigh-in, Brinkley weighs 161.5 lbs. Bonsante had agreed to give Brinkley 161 lbs., but he refuses to relent on the half pound.
Brinkley has three hours left to lose at least half a pound. He hits the treadmill in his garbage-bag suit.
Finally, Brinkley comes in at 160 lbs. Fight's on.
At Least Bonsante Didn't Offer a Money-Back Guarantee
With time to kill and no challenge this week, the producers of the The Contender need to fill an hour-long episode and decide to go with footage from the press conference. That's riveting TV right there.
Sly and Sugar Ray try to work up the crowd about the fight by discussing how "heavy handed" both boxers are.
Bonsante is asked if there's anything that leads him to believe that Brinkley isn't in shape.
Bonsante replies that he thinks Brinkley is in shape, but he guarantees he won't lose a fight to Brinkley. He talks about his kids, and I tune out. Then Bonsante makes a disparaging remark about Brinkley being only a "sparring partner."
But Bonsante also says that Brinkley is a good fighter.
"When I beat him, I want him to say he gave his best," Bonsante says.
"If you beat me, I will say I gave my best," Brinkley replies. I don't think that's much of a self-motivator, but what do I know?
In the locker room, Bonsante reads a letter from his children, who then magically appear with his mother in the locker room.
"Everyone's pulling for you, Twon," Bonsante's dear old mother says. ("Twon"?)
Brinkley is in the locker room, preparing for the fight and points out (correctly) that Bonsante is a "fighter, not a boxer."
He doesn't want to get beaten "like Brent Cooper." (Another good strategy.)
Brinkley's children, his girlfriend and her breasts show up.
While his family are there, Brinkley demonstrates the "float like a butterfly" to his daughter.
She appears on the verge of tears.
Bonsante vows that his children won't see him lose.
As Bonsante hits the ring, Brinkley's girlfriend golf-claps for her boyfriend's opponent.
As Brinkley hits the ring, he stops and gives his daughter a little toy tiara.
Bonsante wastes no time in getting into the fight.
He comes out swinging with a series of hard jabs.
Worse, he grips Brinkley's head, and when Brinkley struggles out, Bonsante tries to land a punch.
The two boxers exchange a few blows, and Bonsante works Brinkley into the corner. Brinkley manages to punch his way out of it.
Brinkley grins at Bonsante, using that black mouthpiece to maximum effect. Brinkley twirls his right hand and hits Bonsante with a left. Brinkley goes after Bonsante and comes up with some jabs.
At the bell, the two fighters slap leather out of mutual respect, but Brinkley tweaks Bonsante on the cheek as the fighter passes. Bonsante shows no reaction to Brinkley's head game.
In the audience, Trainer Tommy thinks Brinkley lost the round.
Brinkley jabs at Bonsante, but his shots are ineffective.
Bonsante dances away from Brinkley and shakes his head, playing a few head games of his own.
Brinkley just grins at Bonsante.
Brinkley misses a big right hook.
Bonsante clinches Brinkley and as they are separated, Bonsante tries to come up with a big left hook.
Bonsante connects solidly, but Brinkley responds with conviction, the kind of shot that has the audience oohing.
Bonsante goes for that headlock again, trying to hit Brinkley as they come out of it.
And then Bonsante goes to work, Juan De La Rosa style--grab-ass punches and wild swings that he backs up with a prayer, hoping that with the law of averages, somehow, his punches will connect.
Brinkley finally wakes up and connects solidly.
"Watch the right hand!" Bonsante's corner shouts.
Brinkley watches it, all right. He watches it as it lands between his eyes.
Brinkley wiggles his tongue at Bonsante.
Bonsante misses a big shot, leaving himself open for a huge Brinkley cross.
Bonsante tries that clinch again, but Brinkley has had enough of that and shrugs him off like a frat boy shrugging off the heavyset girl at the end of dollar-beer night at the college dive bar.
Bonsante grapples with Brinkley and tosses him against the ropes, measuring him for a punch to the back of the head.
The referee is forced to stop him.
What can I say except that Bonsante comes out with about 500 punches?
Tommy tells Brinkley that he needs to knock out Bonsante.
For a minute into the round, it's deja vu all over again as Bonsante goes to work on Brinkley.
But then, then, Bonsante misses a shot...
...Brinkley eyeballs him...
...and fires a shot like a baseball slugger aiming for the back wall of the stadium.
The audience is stunned.
Sly is stunned. (You know he's stunned because he shouts "Whoa!")
Bonsante can't even stand up straight.
Brinkley actually tries to bring Bonsante to his feet so that he can deliver the killing blow.
"He's hurt, he's hurt!" Brinkley's girlfriend yells from the audience.
Brinkley comes in with another right-uppercut. It lands so hard, it's like plastic surgery on Bonsante's face.
Bonsante hits the mat like a sack of doorknobs.
I haven't seen someone this dazed, writhing on the ground, since my last visit to Bourbon St. in New Orleans. I can almost see the stars and little birds circling Bonsante's head.
By the count of six, Bonsante is on his feet. The referee counts to eight and asks Bonsante if he's all right.
Brinkley looks across the ring at Bonsante and wades back in with what works--uppercuts, uppercuts all around.
Bonsante is so badly hurt, he's actually leaning forward into Brinkley.
Brinkley's girlfriend is at ringside, begging the referee to stop the fight.
Brinkley chases Bonsante into a corner and pummels him, much like Bonsante did to Brent Cooper.
The referee stops the fight, declaring a knockout for Jesse Brinkley.
Brinkley celebrates, while Bonsante is in tears, wailing, "No!" over and over again.
Bonsante assures his children that he's okay. In the shower, Bonsante reflects on his time with The Contender, spouting some platitudes I don't even bother to write down.
The parallel between this fight and the fight where Bonsante punished a helpless Cooper can't be ignored.
So, hey, Bonsante? Karma. She's a bitch, isn't she?
phat32 (firstname.lastname@example.org) never met a fight that couldn't be settled with a calm discussion, or, failing that, fleeing