In which we spar with Clubber Lang and the mob.
The episode begins with the A-Team visiting Willie’s Gym, where Face has invested their money into 60% of a ‘star’ boxer, Billy. BA’s not happy as he says the gym trains losers and they should invest in gold. He’s proved right when we find their investment getting beaten up behind the gym by two mob henchmen. Billy is refusing to take a dive so the men threaten his sister Tina too.
Billy won’t talk to the team, but Tina asks for their help. She can’t pay, but Face considers it protecting their investment. Using the henchmen’s car as a lead, the team track the enforcers back to the syndicate that owns the other 40% of Billy.
Following the thugs to a favourite restaurant, Murdock creates a distraction so Face can slip a bugged clam (yes, clam) onto their table. Listening in, the team learns that the mob boss Sonny Monroe wants to make money betting on the rigged fight so he can buy his way into the drug business. He has a supplier lined up, who’s ready to deal after the fight.
After playing the tape for Billy, the fighter agrees to help them and Hannibal puts his plan into action. The mob come to watch Billy train against BA (who’s now “Volcano Joe”). Billy breaks his hand sparring and is taken away by Hannibal and Murdock in disguise as paramedics.
The gangsters visit Billy in hospital, where his doctor (Face in disguise, making this a full team set of disguises) informs them their fighter will miss the bout. Furious, Monroe plans to make Volcano Joe take Billy’s place for them.
Back at the gym, Hannibal is now in a new disguise as Jimmy Pearl, Volcano Joe’s owner. He won’t let Joe take the match and a fight breaks out, which Hannibal, BA and Murdock win.
Undeterred, Monroe kidnaps Murdock (now disguised as Volcano Joe’s trainer if you’re keeping up). Promising that he’ll keep his job, he gets Murdock to reveal Jimmy Pearl’s weakness – he’s got debts to a bookie in the city.
With this seed planted, the A-Team burst into a local backstreet bookmaker’s office with all guns blazing. Faced with no other option, the owner agrees to play along – with Murdock sat under his desk to make sure. When Monroe arrives, he buy up all of Jimmy Pearl’s debts, effectively owning Pearl and Volcano Joe.
Pearl now agrees to the fight and the team relocate to Monroe’s home to train, so he can keep an eye on them. That suits Hannibal as he plans to learn the location of the drug deal from Monroe’s girlfriend. Using his charms, Hannibal finds out about Monroe’s habit of recording calls and the combination to his safe (actually his girlfriend’s measurements, which Face helpfully provides).
After stealing the tapes, Hannibal gets the location of the deal and learns the drugs are coming from a bigger dealer called Carrenza. Getting into his second disguise of the adventure, Face scams his way into Carrenza’s place with Tina, posing as cable tv repairers. He “fixes” the signal, planting a device which will let the team control what Carrenza sees – so that he thinks the fight is going to plan and turns up for the drug deal.
It’s fight night, and BA is ready to win. Little does he know, Monroe has spiked his mouthguard water with enough tranquilliser to “slow down an elephant”. BA makes it through round one, pushing his opponent hard and worrying both Carrenza and Monroe.
As the fight continues, Face cuts Carrenza’s tv signal and adds his pre-recorded commentary to show Volcano Joe losing. Meanwhile, BA is struggling and taking heavy hits, barely able to stay conscious. Things go from bad to worse when Carrenza arrives ringside, tired of his bad tv signal.
Realising BA’s has been drugged, Hannibal and Murdock use a special potion Murdock cooked up earlier to revive BA. Suddenly alert, he powers back into the ring and knocks out the other fighter. He’s carried to the back, where he falls back asleep – the potion having worn off.
Monroe, Carrenza and their henchmen chase down the A-Team and a fight breaks out around the unconscious BA. The remaining three manage to stand their ground and win, with BA rolling of his bench onto a mobster to pin him down. Hannibal finds the drugs in a suitcase and the mission is a success.
The next day, Billy and Tina reunite with Billy’s hand on the mend. Both Carrenza and Monroe are in jail and the team sign Billy’s contract over to him – having made their money when Monroe bought Jimmy Pearl’s fake debts up. There’s one surprise for Face, BA and Murdock have signed him up for his first fight as their new boxer!
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes. He’s a paramedic and then Jimmy Pearl, owner of Volcano Joe. In fact, the whole team get disguises this time – two each for Murdock and Face.
Does BA get on a plane?
Should someone be dead?
No. It’s mostly hand-to-hand fighting this time out, though BA could probably kill a man in the ring if he wasn’t drugged.
Champ! (S03, E16) is a fairly complicated episode of The A-Team, with plenty of twists and turns. We’re treated to two villains and an extensive plan that involves setting BA up as a heavyweight boxer, tricking a mobster to force him to take a dive and then fooling a drug dealer into thinking the rigged match is going as planned.
This would have made for a great two-parter, as there’s a lot to take in. Even by the time we get to the big fight, both the mob and drug cartels provide their own twists to add more tension to the plan. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of BA fighting as Volcano Joe, but then there’s always Rocky III.