Ishe Smith eliminates Ahmed Kaddour in the third episode of NBC's 'The Contender'
By Wade Paulsen, 03/14/2005
The grudge match that everyone wanted to see in the third episode of NBC's reality-competition boxing show The Contender is over, but the complete domination of West boxers over East boxers continues unabated.
In the culmination of a personal feud that had gone on since the beginning of the first episode, the West's Ishe "Sugar Shay" Smith (now 15-0, 7 KOs), the only boxer on the show ranked in the worldwide top 10 by all four boxing rating organizations (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO) in August 2004, when The Contender started, handed the East's Ahmed "Baby Face" Kaddour (now 18-1, 9 KOs) his first professional loss in a five-round bout, winning a dominant unanimous decision. Ishe thus joins the West's Alfonso Gomez, Jr. and Jesse Brinkley in the quarterfinals, with five first-round bouts still to go.
The episode began with Ishe's West teammates celebrating Jesse's win over former middleweight world title contender Jonathan Reid, with Ishe (who was razzed throughout the episode by Jesse) conspicuous by his failure to join in. As a result of Jesse's win, the West earned a reward trip with trainer Tommy Gallagher. Destination: a men's clothing store to buy a new suit of clothes (including hats and shoes) for each boxer. What might seem like a mundane reward to many viewers was a dream come true to the West boxers, as some of them (including the highly-regarded Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora) confessed that they had never owned -- or even worn -- a suit.
After spending much of the next day with his wife and child, Ishe returned to the West squad and stated that he wanted to fight Ahmed if the West won the third challenge. At the Home Depot Center in L.A., the two teams engaged in a dodgeball battle, with both Alfonso and Jesse sitting out for the West. The East quickly jumped out to a lead, with 5 of its 6 boxers remaining while the West had been knocked down to 3.
As two of the remaining West boxers (Ishe and Joey Gilbert) debated strategy, Joey ultimately hatched a plan to send only himself into danger -- and his athleticism and quick sprint to the balls enabled him to put an East player out every time with no further West losses (though Joey also said that he may have pulled his hamstring in the process), until the only East player left was Ahmed. Ahmed proved good at dodging, but the three West players finally knocked him out, giving the West its third straight chance to make the match for the week.
At the calling-out ceremony, Ishe first called the East's Brent Cooper up to the line ... but it turned out that Ishe merely wanted to share a moment with another Christian before issuing the challenge to Ahmed. Ahmed expressed extreme confidence prior to the fight, while Ishe was quiet. During the fight, though, Ahmed basically spent the first half-minute of each round on the attack and the rest of the round on the defensive (except when he was wrestling or throwing late punches) from Ishe's multi-punch combinations. Although Ahmed landed a couple of good shots, the outcome of the highly-edited match never seemed to be in doubt.
The Ishe-Ahmed matchup had been widely predicted, but the preview for Episode 4 (airing next Sunday at 8 PM) indicated that a different dilemma was going to face the boxers: one of the three eliminated boxers would have to be brought back to replace one of the remaining thirteen boxers, and the boxers who are left get to decide which one it is.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. There is a longstanding rumor regarding The Contender that may be coming true. If you do not want to know the identity of the possible replacement contestant on The Contender or possible upcoming events, please stop reading this article now.
No spoiler has told us why anyone might need to leave The Contender in Episode 4. The title of the episode, The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend, also provides no hint. Considering the strained relations between Jesse and Ishe, the title might be seen as a discussion of the replacement process, indicating that Jesse (who clearly seems to have a "hate-hate" relationship with Ishe) wants to bring Ahmed back, so that he will have someone to side with him against Ishe.
However, there has been an updated rumor circulating that a particular boxer would return to the show in Episode 4, in keeping with the concept that the boxers want to prove themselves against the best. The boxer: Peter Manfredo, Jr., ranked #3 at junior middleweight (154 lb.) by the WBO in August 2004 but eliminated in Episode 1 by Alfonso in a HUGE upset (Ishe was also ranked #3 at that time, but at welterweight (147 lb.); the fights in The Contender are fought at 158 lb., which is closer to the natural weight class of Peter, Jesse and Sergio.)
According to the updated rumor's source, Peter will have a quarterfinal rematch against Alfonso. However until we see the circumstances that lead to Peter's return, we'll hold off on reporting the rumored results of that rematch ... or any of the other rumors swirling around future matches of The Contender.
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