The Contender Shower Scene
Jesse Brinkley and Sergio Mora are in the shower room, and Mora says of Brinkley, his opponent-by-default: "Jesse Brinkley is a tough opponent."
And, oh, how I wish the boxers would stop sizing up one while they're in the shower.
Brinkley doesn't think about Mora so much as he thinks about the condition that he's in for the upcoming fight with "The Latin Snake." Brinkley realizes he only fought two days ago.
"This is it," he says. "All or nothing."
As Contender Gym is quickly emptying, Brinkley thinks about the wall of boxing gloves left by boxers who were defeated and are no longer in contention.
"[It's] like a graveyard!" Brinkley remarks.
Back at Brinkley's family housing, the boxer seems ecstatic to see his girlfriend and their children.
Brinkley counts his blessings: "Beautiful kids and a wonderful woman," he remarks.
Having loved ones like his makes Brinkley "want to be better than just breaking even [financially]."
Brinkley plays hide-and-seek with his children, which is pretty good practice as he'll probably soon be playing hide-and-seek with his boxing career. ("Come out, come out, wherever you are!")
In Contender Loft, Sergio Mora is writing...something. (We learned earlier that Mora is quite the bookworm. What makes him a bookworm? He likes to quote, sometimes badly, from the books he's read.)
Some boxers leave boxing and open car dealerships. Some go on to be organized-crime "enforcers." Some open theme restaurants. ("Our KO Punch features five premium liquors and will have you facedown on the mat!")
But not our Sergio. Nosirree. Sergio wants to be a writer.
And if he were to win the $1 million purse in Vegas, one of the first things he wants to do is buy his mother a house.
Mourn Ya 'til I Join Ya
Brinkley walks around the nearly-empty Contender Loft and talks about how empty it feels. (Translation: The show's producers needed something, anything, by golly, to fill up five minutes of time not unlike what I'm doing right now.)
Stallone and Sugar Ray address Mora, Brinkley and Manfredo, Jr. Sly congratulates Manfredo on beating Alfonso Gomez and earning a trip to Las Vegas.
Sugar Ray asks the fighters to tour a hallway decorated with the other boxers' photos and "pay tribute" to them. (Anyone who has ever watched Survivor knows what this entails.) Translation: We need you guys to help us eat up ten minutes of airtime, please.
They have the following to say:
Brinkley: "Great guy, great singer."
(Translation: "I'm not sorry I beat the hell out of you in the ring; I hope you sing better than you box because you sure as hell won't be boxing for your supper in the future.")
Manfredo: "I owe it all to him."
(Translation: "I hardly remember this guy, but I'm glad the freak never caught chicken pox as a kid, because he's out with chicken pox, and I'm in. That's just beautiful!")
"Tough little guy."
(Translation: "Well, no, not really, but the producers asked us to say something nice about everyone, especially Najai.")
"Best salsa maker."
"Good kid, fell short."
(Translation: "We don't remember a damn thing about his so-called boxing skills.")
"Helluva nice guy. You didn't want to hit him!"
(Translation: "But Anthony Bonsante didn't mind hitting him! Often! And hard!")
(Translation: "Couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag.")
(Translation: "Together with Tarick, the pair couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag with a map and a flashlight.")
Juan De La Rosa
Competition was "too much for him."
(Translation: "What a complete and utter ass.")
"A favorite from the beginning."
(Translation: "Good thing we're here, and he's not.")
(Translation: "...but you know what they say about funny guys: 'Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest...'
"Shut up, Sergio.")
"A Greek god."
(Translation: "I have a man-crush on Joey.")
"Family man. Lot of respect for him."
(Translation: "I have zero respect for him.")
"All the respect for him!"
(Translation: "But I'm still glad I'm standing here!")
The World According to Tommy
Tommy is having breakfast with the boxers, and the first thing he tells them is that the president (He doesn't say of what) called to wish them luck.
The boxers laugh.
"The guy from England, too," Tommy continues. "What's his name..."
"Prince Charles?" Sergio asks, helpfully.
"No, I don't like Prince Charles," Tommy replies.
Well, gee, Tommy. What did Prince Charles ever do to you? If only we could look inside Tommy's thought balloon as he mentioned Prince Charles:
(34 years ago)
Countess: Oh, Tommy! I would love to move to...Brook...lyn...and live in your one-bedroom apartment!
Tommy: It's rent-controlled, babe!
HRH Charles, Prince of Wales: Oh, I say. Who would like to give my new chestnut mare a ride? And after we put her up in the barn, we can shag like minxes in the hayloft.
Countess: Count me in.
Tommy (shakes fist): Damn you, Prince Charles! DAMN YOU TO HELL!
Other luminaries who supposedly contacted Tommy about The Contender include: Donald Trump, Bill Gates and the President of France.
(The saddest part is that Tommy isn't kidding. When the boxers were done laughing at him, he must have retreated to his room and cried bitterly.)
Tommy thanks the boxers for the opportunity and says that being around younger fighters makes him feel young again.
"But tonight, you guys are going to try and kill each other," he addresses Jesse and Sergio.
"If you go back 2000 years, the gladiators ate together, then they did their thing."
And that's it for History Fun Time with Tommy the Boxing Trainer.
For a Nickel, Peter Manfredo Will Listen to Your Problems
While he's lying in bed, Jesse tells Peter that he doesn't think he's ready for the fight.
Manfredo tries to convince him otherwise.
"Your body is ready," Manfredo tells him.
"Oh my god! Listen to my psychologist!" Brinkley snaps.
So much for biting the hand that feeds you.
At the (finger quotes) "press conference," Sergio says he was destined for something great. Somehow, I don't think "something great" includes "casino greeter."
A (finger quotes) "reporter" asks Jesse if Sergio is faster. He replies, "Probably."
Mora adds: "I'm going to capitalize on his weaknesses."
Brinkley responds: "He's not going to leave without a black eye."
To the camera, Mora says, "I'm not going to hate [Jesse] when I fight him. I'm going to punch him with love."
And that's exactly how I describe my childhood with my younger brother.
In the locker room, Jesse Brinkley thinks, "It's on tonight."
Sergio Mora admits, "I hate the waiting. I'm worried about Jesse's power."
Jesse and Sergio's families visit them in the locker room. Sergio's mother prays for him.
As Sergio leaves for the ring, his girlfriend whispers, "Greatness" at him.
Tommy tells Jesse, "Let's get this done. There's no tomorrow here."
Bald Corner Guy advises Sergio to use his height, while Jesse is reminded of his strength: "You're more powerful than he is. Push him all over the ring."
The first half of the round is characterized by both boxers jabbing but mostly missing some huge blows. They seem to be taking one another's measure as they settle into the fight.
When they finally do start punching, Mora manages to come up with two crazy lefts, and Jesse can't seem to keep his guard up.
Taking the advice he heard in the locker room, Brinkley tries to overpower Mora by chasing him around the ring and intimidating him.
It's Jesse's round.
Brinkley comes up with a noteworthy left and then has the upper hand in the clinch with Mora. In the clinch, he uses his strength to his advantage by wrapping an arm around Mora's head, softening him up with body blows and then utilizing that wicked uppercut.
Mora doesn't seem the worse for wear for all the punishment.
Mora comes back with a fury as he machine-guns lefts at Brinkley.
Between rounds, Manfredo comes ringside and tells Jesse Brinkley to "pick up the pace."
Sergio Mora finds Brinkley with a huge right and then capitalizes on it with a series of strong, fast, destructive right and left hooks.
Brinkley decides he's had enough of that and hits Mora with a walloping right hand.
Mora returns it with interest.
Then Brinkley decides to give it back. It's an electrifying exchange.
Between rounds, Brinkley's corner tries to stem the cut over Brinkley's eye.
The fifth round is notable for a shot Brinkley takes, hitting Mora so hard that The Latin Snake slithers back.
In the audience "celebrity guest" Michael Bolton mouths, "Ooh! That's more painful than losing my hair and trying to cover it up by growing it out!" (I'm just kidding about the hair, but Michael Bolton did think the blow was painful.)
Brinkley comes up with some powerhouse blows and points at Sergio Mora, taunting him at the bell.
Mora finds a series of big lefts and big uppercuts and delivers them to Brinkley. It's obviously Mora's round.
The final round is characterized by a series of clinches, back-and-forth exchanges and an absolutely monstrous shot by Mora.
Then Brinkley hits Mora so hard, Mora gets knocked back, but not down.
That was Brinkley's best hope to knock down Mora.
From that point, it's a furious exchange between the two fighters to the bell, but as the bell approaches, Mora starts scrambling away from Brinkley deciding to keep away from the big puncher's blows at the risk of getting knocked out so close to a decision in his favor.
The decision is called for Mora. Jesse's girlfriend is in tears. Brinkley walks up to Mora and embraces him in the ring, wishing him luck in his Vegas bout.
As Brinkley leaves Contender Gym, he tells the audience, "My all wasn't good enough tonight. Sergio outboxed me for seven rounds."
As for Vegas, Brinkley says, "It's going to be a wonderful fight."
Peter Manfredo tells the audience "Fate brought me back [to The Contender]."
Mora predicts, "There's no way Manfredo can beat me."
Fans will see soon enough for themselves as The Contender's live finale will be broadcast tonight on NBC, 8 pm EST.