Recap: The Contender Season 4, Episode 6

Thanks to Hino Ehikhamenor's victory last episode, the Gold Team is still in control and riding high as we begin to near the end of the first round of the tournament. Hino receives his necklace from Tony Danza, but also plenty of ribbing from trainer Tommy Brooks and others for the way he broke down in tears after winning.

With only three fights left, Blue's Mike Alexander thinks everyone left is ready to go. Since Lawrence Tauasa has the most experience, Alexander believes Gold will look to avoid him, but that's not the way the tourney has gone so far.

Gold's training time focuses on Troy Ross, a two-time Canadian Olympian, and Rico Hoye, a veteran from Detroit who's been inactive for almost a year. Blue trainer John Bray is impressed with Tauasa, especially his footwork, and teammate Felix Cora Jr. gives him props for keeping everything light.

With both teams gathered, Danza brings in a master of foot reflexology - basically a painful foot massage that uses pressure points to help relieve pain in other parts of the body. Tauasa doesn't mind being the guinea pig, but seeing the reactions of all the fighters when they take their turns provides some comic relief.

Afterward, Hino agonizes over where to place himself in the second round. He seems to be avoiding the one empty fight left in the bracket, and after talking it over with Brooks, he still is up in the air about facing Cora - who looked sharp in his first fight and is now well rested to boot - or his teammate Deon Elam.

As it turns out, he does elect to face Elam, throwing his teammate off guard. Brooks and Hoye believe it's a good move, and the unspoken factor is that no one really seems to want to fight Cora.

Ross steps forward for the Gold Team. And to the surprise of no one who's been following this season, he calls out Tauasa. Ryan Coyne's injured eye makes it all the way back to health, one supposes. Danza reminds both men that this fight is doubly important, as the first round will end with a doubleheader next week, and the team that wins tonight will control both matchups.

The twist this week is that Ross and Tauasa have really hit it off and become good friends. Brooks says he likes to see the true professionalism they are displaying. The Samoan Tauasa (now residing in Sydney, Australia) is also recently engaged, and he checks in with his bride-to-be on the wedding preparations.

During the final strategy talks, Brooks tells Ross to use his height and reach and to build up points in the first three rounds before he does any gambling. Bray wants Tauasa to close the distance and keep his foe off-balance.

There are only 15 minutes left when the actual fight coverage begins, leading one to wonder if this fight is going the distance. The first round is pretty tentative, as a southpaw versus orthodox battle leads to both men having trouble jabbing effectively. The teammates of both men are really mic'ed up well - Cora can be heard constantly offering Tauasa advice.

After a close first round, both men look a little more assertive in the second. Then it happens: Ross lands a right hook flush and Tauasa is knocked down between the bottom two ropes. He manages to beat the count but looks extremely wobbly. Ross pours it on to try to close the show, and the ref stops the fight since Tauasa is not defending himself. The second-round TKO is the first stoppage of the tournament to date.

Ross is classy in victory, a stark contrast to Hino's displays last week. Tauasa gives all of the credit to his opponent, vowing that they will remain friends for life. He looks forward to his wedding, but the disappointment of losing catches up with him as he breaks down in tears right before he leaves.

Next week: Ross chooses between the empty second round bracket or a showdown with Cora. And a doubleheader closes out the first round of the tournament.

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