The Contender
Gomez/Manfredo

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Stee: B+ | Grade It Now!
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Zucker Said Knock You Out

Round Four. Alfonso looks sharp. Wife yells. Alfonso holds his arms up, taunting Peter. The West starts cheering and the East feebly tries to match them. "Don't stop punching!" squeals one of the East fighters. Good suggestion. "Where is this coming from?" asks Sugar Ray of Alfonso's prowess. Both boxers raise their hands, thinking they won the round. The bell rings. Alfonso's guy starts yelling at him that he didn't win yet and he needs to stay in the fight. True. Peter keeps asking, "Did I get that one?" a little punch-drunk. "Even round," theorizes Tommy to Sugar Ray. Corner Man yells at Alfonso. Dad yells at him. Tommy yells at Peter.

Round Five. Last round. Everyone stands. "Box him. Box him," advises Mom. Thanks, Mom. They both look tired. Daughter seems upset. No shit. "Toe to toe!" yells Sly. Shut up, Sly. Peter keeps hanging on Alfonso. Alfonso gets in some good shots -- again, good, because we go into slo-mo for them. Yelling. Yelling. Alfonso raises his hand to get the crowd pumped. This isn't a Knicks game, dude. Wife is suddenly nervous as Alfonso starts going off and getting in a lot of good hits. Alfonso gets him with a right to the face and Peter has to hang onto Alfonso's back and even Daughter knows this ain't good. No Disneyland for her this year. In slo-mo, Peter hits Alfonso and Alfonso smiles and shakes his head, "No." Ha. The bell rings and the fighters hug and it's over. The West corner man lifts Alfonso and everyone knows. "Go-mez!" yells the crowd and Peter's wife says, "Good job, baby," very unconvincingly. Sugar Ray sidles up to Alfonso and says, "So impressive." More cheering. Sugar Ray then tells Peter, "Nice job." Ooh. The faint praise of the damned, delivered by Sugar Ray. Peter lifts his daughter into the ring with him, but I don't think it's going to help. The ring announcer reads the unanimous judges' decision for Alfonso. Cheering. Cheering. Music. Poor Yalkima or whatever her name is. I'll never have to look it up again, so why start now? She's bummed. Alfonso hugs his family as he camera-talks that he was nervous but gave Peter the fight of his life. The two men then hold up their hands as Alfonso yells of Peter, "Hell of a fighter! Hell of a fighter!" Classy. Peter looks lost as Jackie pats his shoulder and Alfonso camera-talks, listing off Peter's accomplishments and how he just beat "a gorilla."

And now in a very gratuitous shot, Peter walks, very well lit, alone down the hall into the locker room. Of course, in slo-mo. We catch him on the other side as he voice-overs that he came here with the confidence that he could win it all but "it just didn't happen." Lit now in dramatic shadow, cuts all over his face, he numbly camera-talks that he feels like he let everybody down. He sits alone in the locker room, staring in the mirror. He says that he can hear his father in his head. Now the fam is with him as he showers. "I worked so hard to get to this point," he says, leaning on the shower wall, "and I failed." I half expect him to Elisabeth Shue down the wall, crying, but he doesn't. Wife is crying, though. "Why is it that when it's my time to shine, I blow it?" he asks. "I blow my chance." He starts crying and it's the most emotionally affecting moment I've seen on NBC since the last Cheers. Or since I heard Inside Schwartz was cancelled.

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The Contender

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