"Random Acts of Courage" -
Last time, the 16 contenders arrived in LA for the
fight of their lives: a shot at a title bout for $1
million. But they have to prove themselves in the ring
every round. For example, after West Class won the first
challenge, Alfonso Gomez was chosen to call out Peter
Manfredo, Jr., who was risking an undefeated world
ranking for a shot at the top. In the end, Alfonso gave
Peter a hard lesson in humility, as he became the first
to be eliminated.
After the fight, East and West return to the gym, as
Ishe asks if the members of East would like to sit down
with the members of West to discuss the night's events.
Not present: Alfonso, who's celebrating somewhere no
doubt, and Peter, who is gone. Without even saying
goodbye. Ishe tells the other fighters how much it
hurt to see Manfredo lose, especially in front of his
wife and daughter. "Peter's done."
Jonathan agrees, saying that watching Peter's family
almost brought him to tears. Trainer Tommy gives the
fighters a collective slap to the backs of their heads
and promises that Peter is not as despondent as they
are. Turns out that Tommy was asked for another shot.
"That's what I like to hear," the trainer says. He tells
the boxers a story about a fighter who was beaten so
badly he needed to be carried out of the ring. As he lay
in the stretcher, he looked up at Tommy and asked for a
All together now...
From that we go to the
Reid house, where Jonathan's family is being highlighted
(if this is any indication, then Jonny's dead meat).
Jonathan and his wife Anna have four children with one
on the way... and looking to pop any second now. As
Jonathan says goodnight to the children, he finds one of
his sons hiding under the covers in his bed and plays
with him for a few minutes.
Jonathan asks after his wife and suggests that she
should rest more often at this late stage in her
pregnancy. Big mistake. Trust me.
Next day, we head back
to the gym, where it's training as usual. Sugar Ray
notes that he loves imparting his knowledge and
experience to younger fighters. While he's imparting,
Jesse's proving, with a lethal uppercut. Seeing this,
Jonathan makes a mental note: "no cotton-pickin' games."
Jesse, meanwhile, joins
Ishe in watching Jonathan spar, both in awe of his
talents. Meanwhile, who should strut into the gym than
the Pretty Boy Floyd of the group, Ahmed. He's keeping a
book on the boxers, he says, but Ishe is "too ugly" to
grace his magnum opus. Speaking of which, Mr. Ugly is
sending a message to East Coast: if you want him... come
and get him. "But you better bring it."
Ahmed proceeds to argue with Ishe... "Don't talk to my
friends, talk to me." "I'm serious, man. I beat your
ass." "You're a chicken." "Oh, I'm such a chicken! Who
you fought?" "Your mother, your brother, your sister."
"I'll kill you, man." "Do it then."
Enter Sly, who tells
Ahmed that he needs to calm down. "Instead of being 200
degrees, I want you to be 100 degrees, then normal," Sly
cautions. Wait.. isn't 100 degrees slightly normal?
After Sly and Ahmed
return from their love-in, we have news from the high
and mighty. Sly calls Alfonso out and gives him a symbol
of his victory: a golden glove... on a chain. That bling
is more than just stylin'. That symbolizes that he is
now in the final eight, meaning that he won't have to
fight against until seven other fighters win their
Not only that, but we
have... George Foreman (he of the famous grill) wanting
to know who the fastest on the speed bag is. Jesse steps
up to the plate and gives it his all, as if to say "Gee,
I haven't kissed his ass yet." So while the West-siders
tour the gym with George, Jeff from the East watches
from the upper deck. Broken.
And if THAT wasn't
enough, we get a barbeque with George with a non-George
Foreman grill. While chefs do all the work, George gets
to know the boxers a little better. Jesse (of course)
tells him that he has two children and a girlfriend he's
never married. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Enter
awkward "The Office" pause (hey, did we mention that
"The Office" starts this week?). George begs to differ:
"I tie the knot so tight...!" Jesse seems to be lost on
Back with the East-siders,
as Jonathan calls a meeting... without Ahmed? Oh yeah,
he's getting massaged. Why? Because he's Ahmed... and
there's no known cure. Jonathan says that it's important
to win the next challenge, encouraging his team not to
get up on the argument from earlier.
George, meanwhile: "Plan
your work, and work your plan." No better person takes
this more literally than Ishe, who only hears "your" and
thinks that he's caught up in team versus team politics
and factionism and not knowing why he isn't looking out
for his own interests.
That said, we go to the
next challenge at the Rose Bowl. You may recognize this
place as a) a college football mecca and b) an "American
Idol" audition spot. At the top of the stadium are
planted 14 flags, 7 for each team. The teams must run to
the top of the stadium, retrieve one flag, bring it back
on the field and plant it. After planting the flag, they
leave a man behind.
Yep. Mark Burnett is
making suicides into a challenge (no offense, but having
played rec football, I know, that's what they're called)
The challenge continues until the team/last man
retrieves the last flag and brings it back on the field.
At that time, the teams will unwrap puzzle pieces found
on the flagpoles and construct a puzzle-banner on the
field bearing the inscription "No Pain, No Gain."
It's pretty simplified,
as we instantly go from six to two. East takes the early
lead to the first flag, but West retakes the lead and
they don't look back. But both teams plant their flags
on the pedestals below, and it's time to figure out the
puzzle (remember, half of the game is 90% mental). In
the end, it's West with the option. Again.
In the locker room,
everyone thinks about Ishe and wonders, "Who he's gonna
fight is the question." Most of the West-siders think
it's a rhetorical question since Ishe has been itching
for a fight with Ahmed and has been quite vocal about
it. When Ishe stays silent, Tarick asks, "We thought you
were gonna fight...?" But Ishe doesn't see the point, as
Jesse points out that "if there's one thing he doesn't
appreciate, it's a man not of his word."
But Ishe would rather
talk the talk, so it's Jesse who'll fight. "I want the
guy that suits me," he says. "I want Jonathan Reid."
Alfonso is wary: "I think Reid could outbox you." Ishe's
thoughts: "Reid is 33-1. He's never lost to nobody but a
Back in the gym, Jesse
toes the line with... Jonathan Reid. "I don't think it
was a wise decision. Jonathan Reid will be helping the
East Side get even with the West Side."
Yes, Jonathan Reid
refers to himself in the third person.
That night, both
fighters talk with their families. Jesse's girlfriend,
Colleen, is in love with his fatherhood skills. She
shaves his head in the kitchen as he wonders how their
daughter will react to watching him fight for the first
time. Only their son has seen Jesse box.
tries to get some sleep as Anna tries talking to her.
Good luck with children bickering in the background...
and the foreground. After giving them a severe ribbing,
Jonathan thinks about what he's fighting for and,
instead of ribbing some more, he goes to pray with them.
Next day... the
Press conference, Sly
asks Jonathan what his prediction will be for the
outcome of the bout. He thinks that this match will even
the score. Jesse was tired of the whole "Ishe/Ahmed
thing" when asked about the outcome of the pick. To
which Ishe just says, "Let's make this about you, not
about me. You fightin' tonight." A spar between the two
ensues as Ishe only walks with "Gimme a break."
A reporter from Access
Hollywood (never one to toot their own horn, NBC is)
notices that Jonathan seems awfully quiet. He's saving
the energy for the fight.
Jonathan leans in, and Ishe tells Jonathan that he
doesn't care about the team, he would rather see
Jesse admits to being a
little frightened. "I'm just a young man...with a big
heart," Jesse says as he tapes his hands (once shattered
in a fight). Meanwhile, Jonathan is praying.
Tonight's Main Event:
Brinkley vs. Reid
Your ring announcer
tonight is Jeff Connor. The card is set, the gloves
have been touched. Now.... llllllllllllLET'S GET READY
TO RUM-BLLLLLLLLLE! (Wolvie-style disclaimer: obviously,
because this is pretaped television, some of what goes
on is edited. What follows is a
Round 1: Jonathan draws
first blood by landing a haymaker at Jesse. Sees and
opening and goes for it. Jesse answers back with
fast glove work. He wasn't just kidding with the speed
bag earlier. Jesse caps it with a hard upper that makes
Jonathan's head pop like a rock'em sock'em robot.
Jonathan also sees an open charge and goes to the chin
of Jesse. It's pretty even matched, with Jesse in a
world of hurt... Time up.
Round 2: Neither fighter
takes the initiative as the round starts. But Jesse
gives Jonathan some distance... Big mistake, as both
come with combos. Remember Jesse's hard upper? Here we
go again! Time up...
Round 3: Some
footwork... Jesse fakes left and hard uppers again!
Jonathan is not going to forget that move. At the
clutch, Jesse delivers another hard right! Jesse clearly
the aggressor. Jesse's right shoots forward with the
force of a freight train, throwing Jonathan back. Hard.
Round 4: Jonathan enters
with a few body blows followed by a left jab,
managing to drive Jesse back, but will it be enough?
That might be. He lands a heavy left body blow, forcing
Jesse back a bit, but Jesse answers with a clinch combo.
And another. Both are wincing in tiresome agony. And
another hard upper! Jesse won't quit!
Round 5: Jesse catches
air with is 1-2 to begin, so he goes back to what
works... short combos, followed by a freighter to
Jonathan's face. But Jonathan has a freighter of his
own! A few more punches and... that's it. No mas.
This one goes to the
judges, who turn in a unanimous victory for.... Jesse
Brinkley! Tarick brings Brinkley's children into the
ring to see their father as the two pugilists embrace.
So it's Jonathan Reid
going home, as he notes that it hurts to lose in front
of his family. He asks his son how he thinks he did, and
the little boy tells his father that he won.
As the family leaves
ahead of him, Jonathan can only say that it wasn't his
time or his season.
Well, it soon will be.
Next time, factionism heats up further.