Article published in on October 17, 2005

THE CONTENDER“Life Isn't Always Fair”

By Stephen Alexander (co-authored by Dino M. Zaffina)

A long awaited rematch between the challenger Peter “The Pride of Providence” Manfredo Jr. and The Contender champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora was brought to cable audiences on ESPN, hosted by Dan Patrick and Mario Lopez. The event was televised from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on Saturday, October 15, 2005, as part of a special ESPN event. Manfredo, Jr. set out to revenge his loss to Mora which occurred in The Contender championship at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada this past spring, on May 24, 2005, after the two warriors slugged it out in a seven-round fight for $1,000,000. When the decision was in, Mora conquered Manfredo, Jr. by a unanimous vote.


Peter Manfredo, Jr. vs. Sergio Mora


Although, Mora won and Manfredo, Jr. lost, the two fighters created a boxing record when they threw a combined 199 power punches in the 7th and last round of their fight which was a CompuBox Middleweight record. This record surpassed the great fighters of “Marvelous” Marvin Haglar, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, and The Contender’s own Sugar Ray Leonard.

Caesars Palace, Las Vegas - May 24, 2005

The main event of this rematch between Manfredo and Mora was supported by to undercard fights between three other fighters from The Contender family and one challenger from the boxingcommunity. Alfonso S. Gomez took on Luciano Perez (not shown) from Chicago, Illinois in a five round Welterweight bout. Anthony “The Bullet” Bonsante from Crosby-Ironton, Minnesota fought Jesse Brinkley from Yerington, Nevada in a Super Middleweight bout.

Fans of The Contender will be happy to know that ESPN will air the second season of Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks Television’s critically acclaimed series in April 2006. The Contender is an unscripted drama about the lives, fears, and hopes of 16 professional boxers as they compete for the chance to change their lives and the lives of the people they love forever.

The Contender is Executive Produced by Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Sylvester Stallone, and is hosted by boxing legend and World Champion, Sugar Ray Leonard. ESPN has also negotiated an option to air the show for an additional two seasons.

The first fight of the night between Gomez and Perez and the main event between Manfredo, Jr. and Mora seemed to end with decisions that were acceptable with the attending crowd. The Gomez-Perez fight was stopped by referee Pat Russell with only 41 seconds left in the fourth round; giving Gomez a TKO.

Gomez, a former Mexican Amateur National Champion came into this fight weighing in at 149 lbs., five years experience, with 17 fights and a total of 74 rounds. Since Gomez is a natural welterweight, he was unable to fight anyone from The Contender fighters for this match since they are all middleweights (160-165 lbs). Perez was contracted for this fight only ten days before the event.

The main event between the Pride of Providence from Providence, Rhode Island and the Latin Snake from East Los Angeles, California lasted the entire eight rounds with no fighter hitting the canvas or any apparent serious injuries. Mora was cut in the first round (by either a right cross or a head butt), which appeared to be in the same location as the cut from the first time these two men fought. Once again, however, the Latin Snake did not let the cut or the blood affect his task of defeating the Pride of Providence.

Sergio came into this fight with a 16-0 record, with three wins by way of knock out. Peter, on the other hand, entered the ring with a 24-2 record, with ten wins by way of knock out.

Manfredo, Jr. made some changes to his fighting strategy for this fight. First, he added to his corner, the world renowned boxing trainer, Freddy Roach. Peter’s father, Peter Manfredo, Sr. was still in his corner, but he took a backseat. Second, Manfredo, Jr. settled down a lot, and worked Mora from the outside. Peter came into this fight weighing a 162 pounds.

Mora did not plan to make any changes.  He was going to fight the same fight he did the last time he defeated Manfredo, Jr.  Ironically, the cut caused him to alter his strategy slightly; he was not as willing to go toe-to-toe with Manfredo, Jr. and brawl to the end. Sergio weighed in at the same weight as he was in May 2005, which was 160 pounds. The bout was refereed by Raul Caiz, Sr.

When the smoke cleared, both of these fighters were still standing with their fate in the hands of the judges. Mora who threw 417 punches and landed 133 with a higher percentage rate of 32 percent over Manfredo, Jr.’s 594 punches thrown and landing 180 with a lower percentage rate of 30 percent gave Sergio Mora the victory by a “split decision.”

Ring Announcer, Jeff Connor read the official scorecards; Julie Lederman scored the bout, 77-75 for Mora; Marty Danken scored the bout 77-75 for Manfredo, Jr.; and Chuck Hasten scored the bout 77-75 in favor of the winner and still Contender champion, Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the knock out the three judges gave Anthony Bonsante in the second undercard fight.

Bonsante, 34 years of age,  agreed to fight Brinkley, 28, in a Super Middleweight five round fight. Bonsante was still haunted by the fifth round defeat he suffered at the hands of Brinkley when he was knocked out by a right upper cut during the semi-finals of The Contender. During that fight, Anthony was in control of the decision for the first four rounds and the first two minutes of the last round; he would have most likely won the decision. Unfortunately, it did not workout that way.

This fight was suppose to be different. Bonsante, with his 26-6-3 record, with fifteen wins by way of knock out came to Los Angeles to conduct business in the ring. Bonsante who stands 5’9” weighed in at 162 pounds to face off against Brinkley, who was 25-3, with seventeen wins by way of knock out; standing 5’10” and weighing 164 pounds. Bonsante did everything right; he jabbed, boxed, and punched his way through five rounds against a fighter, many think is more polished.

Brinkley, who has been known to throw some devastating punches in previous fights, and whose motto is “Shut up, put up, go hard, go home if you don’t” seemed to not be up for this fight.  Jesse appeared to be sleeping most of the fight and when he did decided to throw a dozen punches a round, they were not that effective.

The ring experience between these two fighters is fairly close. Brinkley has nine years and 28 fights to Bonsante’s 10 years and 35 fights. Bonsante has gone more rounds than Brinkley with 197 to Jesse’s 110. Brinkley has had more knock outs in the first round, with seven over Bonsante’s two.

During the fight, ESPN commentator, Joe Tessitoreasked The Contender first season fight trainer and advisor, Tommy Gallagher what he thought of the fight so far. Gallagher responded, “I don’t like Jesse’s body language. To me he looks like he is just laying there waiting.”

The most excitement out of Brinkley came with one minute remaining in the fourth round. Brinkley leaned against the ropes and waved Bonsante to come and fight. The referee, Jack Reese had to tell Brinkley to step up and fight; waving him toward Bonsante who was standing in the middle of the ring. In the last 20 seconds of round four Bonsante brought on a flurry of punches to Brinkley’s head “none stop for 15 seconds,” ending the round with a two punch combination (right cross and a strong left jab) to Brinkley’s head.

World renowned boxing  trainer, Teddy Atlas  unofficially scored the fight 50-45 in favor of Bonsante. To Teddy, Anthony appeared to have swept every round.

The CompuBox numbers established unequivocally that Bonsante was the victor. Anthony landed 24-14 punches in Round 1; 19-13 in Round 2; 32-13 in Round 3; 40-9 in Round 4; and 26-9 in Round 5, which totals 141 punches to Brinkley’s 58.

Bonsante threw 409 punches and landed 141 with a 34 percentage, as opposed to Brinkley’s 310 punches thrown, but only landing 58 with a 19 percentage. Bonsante clearly dominated the CompuBox stats and the fight.

Unfortunately, the three judges, Julie Lederman, Fritz Werner, and Raul Caiz, Sr. were watching another fight; or, they got the fighters’ names mixed up because they both begin with “Bs.”  Either way, these three incompetent judges stole the fight away from Bonsante with their unanimous decision in favor of Brinkley. Caiz, Sr. scored the bout, 49-46; Lederman and Werner both scored the bout 48-47.

These judges took the victory away from the guy that earned it. When the decision was being announced Bonsante raised his arms over his head in celebration of his victory, but when Brinkley’s hometown was announced he almost hit the canvas in disbelief. The look on Anthony’s face was that of disgust. The crowd was also in disbelief; they began to boo the judges.

Although Brinkley knew in his heart that he did not win that fight, he still threw his gloves out into the audience giving the appearance that he was the victor.

Bonsante immediately left the ring and headed for his dressing room only to return moments later to thank the crowd for their support. The crowd cheered Bonsante, the true winner, as he walked the path around the ring.

There was not one single round that Bonsante was not more productive than Brinkley. Brinkley only landed 58 punches in the entire five rounds and Bonsante landed 90 jabs of his 141 landed punches. What were these judges thinking?


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