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Monday, March 14, 2005
Updated: March 21, 11:46 AM ET
Knocked off 'The Contender'

By Miki Turner
Special to Page 3

LOS ANGELES – When NBC debuted its new boxing reality show "The Contender," there were 16 contestants vying to win the $1 million grand prize, a multi-year boxing contract and an opportunity to fight at Caesar's Palace in the show's finale, which will be aired live on May 24.

Peter Manfredo Jr.
For Peter Manfredo Jr., boxing runs in his family and his loss was a major disappointment.
The format: Boxers from the East and West squads face a series of competitive challenges. The winner gets to select whom he'd like to fight on the opposing team. Now, after three episodes featuring two nail-biting upsets and an entertaining battle between a pair of unbeaten trash-talkers, there are only 13 contestants remaining. So far, the West squad holds a 3-0 edge over the East.

After each bout, Page 3 will feature exclusive exit interviews with the losers. But first, let's get you up to speed:

The first to go down was the previously undefeated Peter Manfredo Jr., who, because of his professional record, was heavily favored in his match against Alfonso Gomez.

But Gomez, a member of the West squad, chose to fight Manfredo, the East's best fighter, with a gameplan in mind. Gomez had convinced his teammates and family he had the right stuff to take Manfredo out. And he did so, with a combination of jabs and determination.

Next to fall was Jonathan Reid, an ex-con and father of five who had only lost one fight as a professional. He was upset by Jesse Brinkley, a country boy from Nevada who learned to fight by watching "Rocky" movies.

Jonathan Reid
Jonathan Reid, frustrated but not devastated by his loss.
Sunday's episode was all about bad blood between a pair of mouthy opponents, who'd been taunting each other for weeks: Pretty boy Ahmed Kaddour was defeated by Ishe Smith, a devout Christian who recently declared bankruptcy. Smith used his mouth to get inside Kaddour's head, which helped him walk away with the victory.

No contender thus far took his loss worse than Manfredo, who was 21-0 coming into the show. Suffering his first loss ever on national television was quite a sting. Manfredo indicated he felt as though he let down his family – particularly his wife, daughter and his father, a former boxer.

"I'm doing better now [after the loss], just training real hard and trying to get back into the swing of things," Manfredo said during a phone interview from his home in Providence, R.I.

"I don't think I'll get emotionally over it until I get in there and win a couple more, you know?" Manfredo said. "It was a tough loss. It was the first one in my career, and it hurt me real bad. He [Alfonso Gomez] was a good fighter but I was a better fighter. I really beat myself [up]. I just didn't have it that night."

In Week 2, Reid, a father of five, was frustrated, though not devastated, by his loss.

"I wasn't really disappointed because I like Jesse and I grew to love that doggone mamma jamma while I was there," Reid said from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

Ahmed Kaddour
Kaddour wasn't quick on his feet but he hopes that he can turn network heads with his quick wit.
"He always had me laughing and I think that was one of the reasons I couldn't fight as hard as I normally do," Reid said. "I was exhausted from doing the task [running up and down the stairs at the Rose Bowl]. I mean, I was in great shape, but normally, if I have to fight on a Saturday I'm not going to do something really strenuous the week prior to the fight. I'm going to get my rest and that way, I'll be 100 percent come fight night."

Lastly, the competition's other unbeaten, trash-talking Kaddour, might have lost his first fight in the ring to Smith, but the war of words continues.

"I wanted him [Smith] so bad, and I still want him so bad," said Kaddour, who plans on using his exposure on the show and his gift of gab to woo Hollywood casting agents.

"I'm already in training. I'll hit him so hard that he'll never want to get in the ring again. Nothing was wrong, there was no excuse. It was just his day. I'm going to get him. I back up my words, I'll get him."

Talk all you want, but Smith is on to the next round.