The Contender is a Knockout!
By: Scott Ploof and
Alex Dombroff at ringside
Photography by Emily Harney
Troy Ross won season four of The Contender with a convincing fourth round
stoppage over Ehinomen Ehikhamenor Wednesday night at recently opened MGM
Grand Theatre on the grounds of the Foxwoods Resort in Ledyard, Connecticut.
Much like previous finales of the series, it didn't take long for the two men to get lost in the moment and begin attacking with a bombs away mentality.
Seconds into round two, Ross and Ehikhamenor began trading haymakers at a furious pace; a pace that appeared better suited for the hard hitting Ross, who scored a knockout in two of his three victories featured during the taped broadcasts of The Contender which have been airing since last December.
Ehikhamenor, who hadn't scored a knockout in almost four years, spanning eight fights, admitted to getting away from his planned approach.
“We got away from it a little bit,” Ehikhamenor said. “Slugging is never part of the game plan. When you go in there slugging, you can get hit with any lucky shot, and the ones that you don’t see are the ones that hurt you.”
Ehikhamenor, who lives in nearby Queens, NY, and was treated like a hometown fighter for much of the night by the fans, held his own in round three, banging away with the two-time Olympian, Ross.
With the pace much the same in round four, Ross’s heavy hands began to get to Ehikhamenor.
A series of left hooks stunned Ehikhamenor, and an overhand right backed him into the corner.
With Ehikhamenor’s head hanging over the ropes, referee Steve Smoger stepped in, drawing jeers from the many who made the quick trip down I-95 from New York.
“I saw something,” said Ross (21-1, 15 KOs). “I faked the jab and came over with the overhand right, and it caught him. The main thing was to not back up, to keep coming forward, and try to control the fight that way.”
Ehikhamenor (15-4, 7 KOs) protested the stoppage immediately after it occurred, but with an assist to the video boards in the theatre simulcasting the live broadcast, he quickly came to his senses.
“When [Smoger] stopped the fight, I asked him ‘Why did you stop the fight?’,” Ehikhamenor recounted. “He said, ‘Because you turned around.’ I was like, ‘I turned around?’ Then they showed it on the screen, and I did turn around.”
Tournament of Contenders promoter Jeff Wald, who has a stake in both fighters because of their participation in the show, heaped praise on both Ross and Smoger for stepping in when he did.
“The result wouldn’t have changed at that moment,” said Wald. “He had him hurt, and he knows how to close.”---Alex Dombroff
Hoye Decisions Laleye!
Rico “Suave” Hoye (23-3, 15 KOs) was smooth, slick, and effective as he dominated Akinyemi “AK” Laleye (12-3, 5 KOs) over eight rounds to take a unanimous decision and third place in season four of “The Contender.” Hoye won the eight round contest, as all three judges scored it 79-72 in his favor. “Suave” controlled the tempo of the contest as he was able to consistently land punishing hooks especially in the middle rounds of the fight.
In the first round with Laleye holding one of his arms from punching him, Hoye used his right hand to land to the body of his opponent early. Laleye was able to land with his jab and follow up with a hook to the head of Hoye. Both fighters each landed a hook on the other at the same time causing each to essentially stun the other. Laleye controlled the rest of round one even though Hoye had Laleye hurt at the end of the round.
Hoye fired back with a vengeance in round two as he started out landing four unanswered punches at his opponent. Laleye quickly adjusted and went back to firing his jab. Hoye countered hard with some more powerful hooks and once again had Laleye hurt and the crowd on their feet as the second came to a close.
“AK” lunged out at Hoye early in round three but he was quickly met with a Hoye right hook. He again had him hurt but the determination of Laleye showed as he continued to press forward against the onslaught of Hoye.
Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. deducted one point in the fourth against Laleye for excessive holding. Upon restarting the fight, Hoye continued to land flurries of hooks on “AK.” The referee then asked Laleye if he was able to continue the fight after taking such powerful shots from Hoye. By the end of the round, Laleye barely survived as Hoye landed shot after shot.
Hoye had his opponent backed into the corner early in round six as he continued to stalk Laleye. Both fighters continued to throw punches in close quarters. Laleye is trading punches with Hoye in close quarters, but it is apparent that Laleye is tired and has taken a lot of punishment from his opponent.
As the fight wore on, it became apparent that Laleye was tiring and taking way to many punches from Hoye. Laleye got back into the fight for a least one round in the seventh as the fight slowed down and he was able to land the jab and keep a distance from Hoye.
In the final round, it was back to basics for Hoye as he worked in tight and landed punishing hooks and then straight combinations that had Laleye again almost out on his feet until the final bell rang. Credit is due to Laleye in this fight because although he clearly did not deserve to win the decision in this bout, he showed tremendous heart and determination in the fight as he constantly moved forward while taking lots of punches from Hoye.---Scott Ploof
Fan Favorite Flamos Knocked Out
The local flare added to the card by Tim Flamos was extinguished quickly by Felix Cora, Jr. Cora (20-3-2, 10 KOs) and Flamos (20-6-1, 8 KOs) fought most of the first round on even terms, each trying to break the other down by working the body. As the action wore on, Cora began finding his range, and battering Flamos, from nearby Brockton, Mass. In round three, with Cora pinned in the corner, Cora unleashed a series of uppercuts that backed Flamos off him. A series of looping power punches in the middle of the ring dropped Flamos, whose subsequent trouble rising to his feet cause referee John Callas to stop the bout at 1:57 of round three.---Alex Dombroff
Coyne Decisions Gingras!
Ryan Coyne (10-0, 2 KOs) kept his perfect record unblemished as he landed the more effective punches and combinations, typically in the later minutes of each round to score a six round unanimous decision over Richard Gingras (9-3, 5 KOs). Scores of the bout were 60-54 twice and 59-55 all in favor of Coyne.
Both fighters went through the feeling out process in round one as both seemed content to throw an occasional jab. Gingras landed with a hook to the body, while Coyne was able to counter with a right hook to the head of his opponent in retaliation.
Coyne put his foot on the pedal and would usually attack hard at his opponent with less than thirty seconds left in each of the six rounds they battled. He would seemingly do just enough and land enough on Gingras to win all of the rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
He continued his attack landing several powerful hooks to the head of Gingras. Gingras was mostly on the defensive throughout the remainder of the fight, only occasionally countering with a hook to the body of Coyne.
In the final round with blood dripping from the right eye of Coyne, he continued to fight hard and outland Gingras. Gingras stayed in there with Coyne, but was clearly out boxed on this night as he was unable to mount any sustainable attack on his opponent.---Scott Ploof
Escalera Jr. Stops Vega!
In the opening bout of the evening Alfredo Escalera Jr. (17-2-1, 12 KOs) led by his powerful jab and explosive combinations, battered and beat his opponent Erick Vega (8-4-1, 6 KOs) over six masterful rounds until referee Johnny Callas called a halt to the bout at 2:50 of the final round. Escalera Jr. was explosive with his combinations and out landed and out worked his opponent throughout.
Escalera Jr. started out in the first landing with a solid uppercut and as he had his way landing at will against Vega. He worked the body effectively as he backed Vega into the ropes as he continued to land. Vega showing his durability took some solid punches early and kept on coming forward, making it an exciting fight for the fans in attendance.
Vega landed his jab early in round three to keep Escalera Jr. a safe distance away from him. Escalera Jr. continued to press forward and Vega countered effectively with a short left to the body and backed his opponent off once again.
Escalera Jr. however was too dominant for Vega as he continued to land punishing combinations on his opponent. He continued to double up on his punches and had Vega dazed and confused in round five. Vega tried to slow the pace with his jab, but was unable to stop the charging Escalera Jr.
Bleeding from the nose in round six, Vega was able to continue taking punishment from Escalera Jr. After several unanswered punches late in the final round from Escalera Jr., referee Johnny Callas had seen enough and stopped the fight.---Scott Ploof