Brewer wins a close one when it counts

Grady "Bad Boy" Brewer upset Steve "2 Pound" Forbes, outpointing the favored former 130-pound title holder over 10 rounds, to win "The Contender" Season Two tournament and collect the $500,000 grand prize of the ESPN-televised reality series in front of a packed Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

The tournament finalists fought a closely contested boxing match that featured just as much mauling and holding as it did jabs and power punches. Brewer, who improved to 22-11 (12 KOs), won the bout by outmuscling the naturally smaller Forbes on the inside during the many clinches in the bout, and by making good use of feints, jabs and body shots in the early rounds of the junior middleweight contest.

Brewer, a journeyman fighter for most of his career who was considered to be a slight underdog in the finale, won by scores of 97-93 and 96-94, with the third judge's score of 96-94 going to Forbes, who dropped to 32-4 (9 KOs).

The split verdict was understandable considering the clash of size and styles of the contestants. Brewer is a strong natural junior middleweight with a methodical but awkward manner of fighting. Forbes, a natural junior lightweight who probably shouldn't be fighting over 140 pounds, is a quick-fisted but light-hitting boxer with world-class skills and defense.

However, Forbes often assumed the role of the aggressor in the bout, taking chances by lunging in with sweeping left hooks that often found their mark but never hurt Brewer, who surprised many fans by boxing in a controlled manner, timing the former world titlist with hard counterpunches.

Forbes never utilized a consistent jab or lateral movement in order to take control of the pace and distance in the bout. Brewer, to his credit, took advantage of the veteran's inactivity and lack of mobility by outworking Forbes on the inside and outside.

After the fight, Brewer thanked the producers of the popular unscripted series and his employers at a Goodyear tire factory, where he still works fulltime, for giving him the opportunity to prove that he's more than a "professional opponent" whose sole purpose in the sport is to pad the records of young prospects.

Brewer is different from the winner of the first season of "The Contender," Sergio Mora, who was an undefeated but overlooked 24-year-old prospect gifted with natural ability. The Oklahoma native is 35 years old, and nothing really stands out about his ring presence. He's not fast or flashy. He doesn't possess one-punch knockout power. Brewer is just an honest, hardworking prize fighter with a lot of heart.

These attributes made him a popular choice with matchmaker and managers looking to test up-and-coming young prospects. Five of Brewer's 11 losses have come to undefeated fighters, including middleweight champ Jermain Taylor and Season One "Contender" grad Peter Manfredo Jr.

Brewer, who has four children, took many of those losing bouts on short notice sacrificing a fighting chance to win in order to provide for his family. If a bout was close, such as his split-decision loss to then-undefeated prospect Sechew Powell two years ago, he didn't get the decision. Brewer was just a journeyman.

He wasn't supposed to win close fights.

"The Contender" changed that. Brewer's self belief and hard work earned him three consecutive victories leading into Tuesday night's finale and the exposure from the reality series on ESPN transformed "Mr. Nobody" into "Somebody". Tuesday night, Brewer finally won a close fight.