Bonsante vs. Green a reality check for both

Super middleweight Allan Green (20-0, 14 KOs) stars in the Friday Night Fights main event against former "Contender" contestant Anthony Bonsante (26-7-3, 15 KOs), Joe Tessitore writes.

Originally Published: July 19, 2006
By Joe Tessitore | Special to ESPN.com

What happens when a reality show meets actual reality? Tune in and find out this week on "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 ET) from Tulsa, Okla.

There aren't any world titles on the line. There isn't that must-see, magical matchup of styles. However, there are enough subplots to produce a lingerie-laden soap opera.

Undefeated and thought to be can't-miss super middleweight Allan Green (20-0, 14 KOs) stars in the main event against veteran tough guy Anthony Bonsante (26-7-3, 15 KOs). Bonsante starred in the first season "The Contender" with his "#1 Daddy" hat seemingly surgically attached to his head, and at one point Jesse Brinkley's right hand embedded into his face.

Anthony Bonsante
Buffalo Run CasinoAn eye injury while sparring prevented Bonsante from fighting Allan Green in April.

Green was supposed to fight Bonsante back in April. Some in the business were hearing reports that Bonsante was struggling to make weight and having second thoughts about facing the powerful Green. Green himself was suspicious of Bonsante pulling out of that fight.

"I was cut in sparring about 10 days before the fight, and I had to get about four stitches above my right eye," Bonsante said. "It's unfortunate, because 10 days out, I was looking pretty good. I was ready to go and then, bam!"

What actually would go "bam" more often than a Food Network "Emeril Live" marathon was Green's head. Little did Green know what was in store for him.

Bonsante needed to be replaced as the opponent. Green's people say they reached out to every well-regarded 168-pounder around. They heard nothing but voicemail messages, busy signals and "no thanks." Fighting the athletically-gifted, supremely confident Green on short notice is not how most veteran fighters properly manage their careers.

In steps Donnie McCrary.

Who?

You know the type. Born and raised in the boxing-depressed Midwest. No great amateur accomplishments. No great physical tools. He is neither fast nor intimidating and has a 16-3-2 record built against mostly against Midwest-county-fair-type opposition.

There were two parts of the McCrary equation missing. Two parts that we didn't realize, nor did Green. You see, McCrary could punch, but even more important is that he really believed he could punch. And he believed he could knock out Green.

In the third round, Green showed the stuff that has most experts convinced he will be a world champ. He crumpled the completely overmatched McCrary with a body shot. Broadcasting the fight, I thought it would be over right there. And it almost was, for Green!

McCrary rose from the canvas, gathered himself and made the decision not enough fighters make or can make. At that moment of pain and desperation, he decided it was time to go for it.

McCrary put together a series of punches that stunned Green, the live crowd and a national television audience. He kept coming forward, kept punching. Green's head snapped back, wet-noodled and down he went. And he went down hard.

I have heard from well-known boxing writers, fighters and promoters telling me they nearly fell off their couches watching it. They say it was by far the most stunning and unexpected turnaround of the year. They're dead on.

I have worked thousands of sporting events in my career. And I never recall a bigger, more completely hopeless underdog, at a moment of near submission, bounce back with a more stunning result. On the air, open microphone and all, I just lost it. This wasn't broadcasting, this was raw emotion.

"What can I say? I'm glad it happened, it was a wakeup call for me," Green said. "I had a strange feeling that it would happen."

He was the only one. Nobody saw it coming. And why would they?

I remember trying to put this into sports perspective. I thought this was like a March Madness game with a No. 1 seed on the brink of losing to a No. 16. But no, it was more dramatic and extreme than that.

Allan Green
Holden ProductionsGreen survived a knockdown before defeating Donnie McCrary on ESPN2's Wednesday Night Fights on April 25.

This was like a No. 1 seed, up by 10 points in the final minute, giving up 14 points to a No. 16 seed that was invited to the big dance from an NAIA tournament. This was Chaminade over Ralph Sampson's Virginia team.

Back to the fight. Green was out of it. It had the look of a stoppage. But it didn't go that way. He was the unbeaten fighter, in his home state. He was going to get his chance to recover. And he did. Those same industry insiders who said it was the most shocking moment of the year also added that if it was in any other state, the ref would have waved it off. Green would have been TKO'd.

Instead, Green survived the onslaught. Three rounds later, McCrary's dream run was over. Green flattened him with a left hook. The knockout win secured Green's standing, but gave him a huge scare.

"I was just not motivated for Donny, because I had sparred with Donny and I killed him in sparring so many times," Green said.

Now with the near meltdown in the rear-view mirror, Green can look ahead to Bonsante. Truth is Bonsante is 35 years old, and likely toward the end of what has been a curious career. His best win was a TKO against aging former inmate and once highly-regarded contender Tony Ayala in 2003. Bonsante has done a great job of marketing himself and fighting smart, rugged and at times dirty. He is likable and that was a good fit for "The Contender." But will likable get him far against a 26-year old thoroughbred with his nose pointed to the finish line?

"Allan Green is a frickin' animal. He's 6-2, he's got arms from here until tomorrow, I'm going into his backyard, and his promoter's promoting it. I've got everything in the world going against me on this one. I think I'm about an 8-to-1 underdog on this one, but that's OK," Bonsante says.

And as if you need more proof that the suburban Minneapolis father of two is a card carrying member of the Lou Holtz Subterfuge Society.

"I'm just going to go in there and use my head. I'm going to use my age, my wisdom, and my experience to do the best that I possibly can to overcome his physical advantages," Bonsante said, "that he has over a guy who's 5-foot-9 with a 67-inch reach."

Bonsante got robbed of a win in his last fight. Millions saw the disappointment versus Brinkley, as it was the prelim before the well hyped Sergio Mora-Peter Manfredo II. If any of that disgust and anger is lying dormant in Bonsante's belly, then now is the time to wake it. Clearly, there is disgust and anger within Green after his last fight.

Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."

Joe Tessitore has been the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and "Wednesday Night Fights" since 2002 and contributes a weekly boxing column to ESPN.com.

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