Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Electrician Lost His Power

The 'Late Snake' took down the 'Pride of Providence' last night as Peter Manfredo, Jr. and his run to the top was shutdown by Sergio Mora on NBC's 'The Contender'. The show finale wasn't what I expected at all as the 24-year old electrician from Rhode Island lost his electricity in the final three rounds.

Manfredo, Jr. who is trained by his father lost a unanimous decision to the 25-year old Mora as the East Los Angeles native, fighting to give his mother a better life, dominated the final three rounds with his fast combinations, elusive defense and charisma. The loss for Manfredo, Jr. ended his story-book finish right before our very eyes.

During the show's first episode I watched closely as they detailed each of the 16 fighters who would be competing during the season. That night I told my fiancé that my pick to win it the big prize and the $1 million was indeed Manfredo, Jr. I had watched him twice fight on ESPN2 both times winning easily against good competition. I remember how he looked like a good kid and thought his skills and toughness were unbeatable, especially against a bunch of 'no-names'.

I was shocked when one of those 'no-names' called out Peter during that first episode and challenged him to be the first fight...Alfonso Gomez was one of the smallest guys on the show and had never really been in a big fight. It had to be the dumbest decision that Gomez had ever made. No. Gomez started slow but finished strong against Manfredo and beat him by a unanimous decision that first night and sent the 'Pride of Providence' home real quick. I told my fiancé, "That's ok, we'll see Manfredo again - this kid is going to be good."

Sure enough in episode four, fellow East Team fighter and New Englander Jeff Fraza had to be taken out of the competition because of the chicken pox and they needed to bring back one of the three fallen fighters. Without question they voted and brought back Manfredo, Jr. and he was put to the test quickly in week five. He would win that week and then again to put himself into the final four. The next test, a rematch with Gomez with the winner to be in 'The Contender' championship at Caesar's Palace with a million dollars on the line. Peter avenged his only professional loss and beat-up Gomez in a seven-round unanimous decision.

But last night in the big $1 million fight of a lifetime, Manfredo, Jr. looked tired in the last few rounds as he kept holding Sergio. Peter definitely threw and landed a lot more punches in the first four rounds, but in the final three Mora's hits were cleaner and each one took more and more of Manfredo's strength.Sergio's road to the final was very different. After winning his first two matches he fought the hard punching Jesse Brinkley in the final four. As Sergio had done to Ishe Smith the fight before, he gave Jesse loads of trouble and was much too elusive for him to land any big combinations. His tough upbringing in a bad area of East Los Angeles is probably the farthest thing on his mind this morning. He's a very smart, young fighter whose style is difficult to fight against and now has plenty of money ($1 million to be exact) and a brand new Toyota Tundra truck. Good for him - he was the best on the show and he deserved it. I hope to see him fight in some bigger fights and watch his career develop in the future.

Manfredo, Jr. will be back, I'm sure of it. He won $250,000 after losing last night's fight - not a million but certainly a wonderful payday for him, his pregnant wife and their beautiful little girl. He's a classy guy who's going to have a great career.


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