The much anticipated season two of ESPN’s The Contender is set to begin on Tuesday, July 18th and the names of the combatants have finally been released. This season, 16 hopefuls in the Welterweight Division will square off in elimination style battle with the winner moving closer to the grand prize of $1,000,000. The season finale will be held at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on September 26. Once again Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone will host the show. The trainers will be Tommy Gallagher and Jeremy Williams. Here is the list of fighters who hope to become this years Sergio Mora. This season features no “real” prospects or undefeated fighters, yet a collection of crowd pleasers and rugged road warrior types. The early favorite has to be Ebo Elder, who is 22 â€“ 2 (14) with a kayo victory over up and comer Oscar Diaz.
Nick Acevedo (15-1, 9 KOs) â€“ 31 year old from New York hasn’t fought since March of 2002 when he lost a unanimous decision to “Cool” Vince Phillips. Hasn’t scored a KO victory since 2000. Known as a counter puncher and has an effective hook after the jab.
Gary Balletto (29-2-2, 25 KOs) â€“ 31 year old from Rhode Island hasn’t laced them up since October of 2003 after a majority decision loss to Gregorio Vargas. Prior to that he knocked quite a few journeymen and wanna be prospects alike. Starred in the movie Sweet Dreams which was aimed to help unionize the sport of boxing.
Vinroy Barrett (21-4, 11 KOs) â€“ a craft Jamacian who goes by the name of “Slick”. Hasn’t fought since October of 2005 in a loss to former Welterweight title contender Jose Louis Lopez. Barrett also has a loss to up and comer Carlos Quintana. Earned bronze medal in the Junior Olympic Games in Puerto Rico, and posted a 48-10 amateur record.
Norberto Bravo (20-10-3, 12 KOs) â€“ The 35 year old Arizona man has been in the ring against some serious competition in his career. He has gone the distance in losses to title contenders Demetrius Hopkins, Ishe Smith & ring veterans Ben Tackie and Ernesto Zepada. Has been very active in the ring after returning from nearly a 10 year layoff. A sleeper pick in a group of journeyman.
Grady Brewer (18-11, 12 KOs) - 35 year old Oklahoma man has faced off against some of the brightest prospects in the game and on occasion has come out on top. He broke the undefeated steak of then red hot prospect Anthony “The Messanger” Thompson, took current prospect Sechew Powell to the limit in June of ’04 losing a close split decision but scoring a knock down in the fight. He went the distance with Jermain Taylor and Peter Manfredo Jr. in 2002. He did suffer knockout losses to Marco Antonio Rubio and Kelly Pavlik. A fighter to keep your eye on, his age could be a factor.
Cornelius Bundrage (21-1, 13 KOs) â€“ The 33 year stepped up the competition in his last fight and was on the wrong end of a knockout of the year candidate as he was wiped out by Sechew Powell 22 seconds into the first round of their match which was televised live on ShoBox. The Detroit native is a protege of Thomas “Hitman” Hearns typically fights at Middleweight, in early 2005 he did win the UBA Intercontinental Middleweight Title.
Rudy Cisneros (8-1, 7 KOs) â€“ This 24 year old Chicago fighter has the least amount of professional ring experience but has a stacked amateur resume which included 151 victories, a two time Chicago Golden Gloves Champion, Bronze medalist in the 2004 Olympic Trials, a two-time U.S. Championship Silver Medalist. As a pro he does seem to have some pop with 7 of his 8 professional victories coming via knockout.
Michael Clark (35-3, 16 KOs) â€“ The 33 year old from Columbus Ohio has victories over fellow The Contender contestant Gary Balletto and also over former titles holder Stevie Quinonez and the late Leavander Johnson. Briefly held the NABF Lightweight Title in 2003 and fought for just about every other minor Lightweight title out there. “Cold Blood” was a sparring partner for Julio Ceasar Chavez in his controversial win over Meldrick Taylor. The book on Clark is that he is well school and always willing to fight.
Freddy Curiel (15-5-2, 6 KOs) â€“ The 31 year old from Paterson, NJ has been on ice since 2002 after losing a WBO & NABF Welterweight title fight to Jose Celaya. He also has a loss to Hector Camacho Jr. The Contender series will provide a big boost in competition for “Ferocious Freddy”
Andre Eason (15-4, 6 KOs) - Easton is a 30 year old Brooklyn native who is trained by Yoel Judah. He does hold a victory over super prospect Delvin Rodriguez, winning by split decision in 2002. He lost by majority decision to Demetrius Hopkins in 2003 and in his last fight was knocked out by up and comer Juan Urango. The book says that Eason is fast, likes to move around in the ring and stays busy.
Ebo Elder (22-2, 14 KOs) â€“ the 27 year old southpaw from Atlanta GA has by far the best ring experience of anyone in this group of fighters. He has beaten the likes of Oscar Diaz, Coutney Burton & Emmanuel Clottey. He held a number of titles at Lightweight & Light Welterweight. Has an aggressive, crowd pleasing style which has earned him the nickname the “X-Treme Machine” moonlights as a musician as well. Was crushed by Lakva Sim in his last match, hitting the deck 6 times, finally going down for the count in the 12th.
Jeff Fraza (17-2, 10 KOs) - the “Hell Raza” is the guy who was sent home from last seasons series of The Contender because of a case of the chicken pox. Trained by fellow New Englander “Irish” Mickey Ward, Fraza has captured the New England Light Welterweight title back in 2003 and has defended it against limited competition. Won a close split decision in his last fight in the Contender Fan Favorites show.
Steve Forbes (29-3, 9 KOs) â€“ The 29 year old from Las Vegas has beaten a long line of tough guys and came out victorious the only time he has really stepped up the competition (SD Steve Quinonez in 2004) Held the IBF & USBA Super featherweight titles in 2000 & 2001. Lacks pop evident by his 9 kayo’s in 29 wins.
Micheal Stewart (38-4-2, 22 KOs) â€“ the 28 year old Delaware native has stepped in with the likes of Ricky Hatton and Sharmba Mitchell in losing efforts and also has wins over Philly legends Ivan Robinson and Chucky T. A day time construction worker, goes hard to the body, stays aggressive in the ring. Former USBA Light Welterweight Titlist. PA Golden Gloves winner in 1996. “No Joke” has to be considered one of the favorites to win it all.
Aaron Torres (14-2, 6 KOs) â€“ The 27 year old Philly fighter has been in against pretty limited competition. Hasn’t fought since early 2004. Goes by the name of 2- guns. Won more than 100 amateur fights.
Walter Wright (10-1, 5 KOs) â€“ the 25 year old Seattle native has never fought outside of his native Washington and just twice outside the comfort of Emerald Queen Casino. His best match came was a last second replacement to fight Darnell Boone on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Wright responded to the challenge by dominating the match winning a unanimous decision. Lost an Olympic bid to Sechew Powell (has this guy beaten every one on this show?) Was knocked out in his pro debut but bounced back to reel off 10 straight wins.
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