or


[04/10/08 - 10:25 PM]
ESPN Takes Series 'The Contender' Out of the Ring
ESPN.com's Dan Rafael confirms the cable channel has pulled the plug on the series.

[via press release from ESPN]

[http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/boxing/news/story?id=3340702]

ESPN takes series 'The Contender' out of the ring

By Dan Rafael

ESPN.com

Updated: April 11, 2008, 1:25 AM ET

Days before Alfonso Gomez, one of the most popular alumni of boxing reality series "The Contender," climbs into the ring to challenge welterweight titleholder Miguel Cotto, the series that made him a star was canceled.

ESPN, which televised the second and third seasons of the series, pulled the plug on the show that helped fighters such as Gomez, Sergio Mora, Peter Manfredo and Steve Forbes gain recognition and launch them into important fights. The series also returned host Sugar Ray Leonard to the national spotlight.

Sugar Ray Leonard (center), one of the faces of ESPN's "The Contender," which was KOed Thursday, celebrates with his winning team of fighters from last year's "The Contender Challenge" between the U.K. and U.S.

"It was a hard decision to make. We were talking to [promoter Tournament of Contenders] about a renewal but we couldn't come to terms," ESPN vice president of series development and production Ron Wechsler told ESPN.com on Thursday.

The series, however, likely will find new life on another network.

"We're sorry it didn't work out at ESPN, but we're in the process of making another deal," said TOC promoter Jeff Wald, one of the executive producers.

Wald would not say what network he was negotiating with but added, "Hopefully, the deal we are working on will be closed in the next few days. 'The Contender' is the show that will not die. The show is a success with the fans and it became that without much marketing or promotion. With the exception of Ron, who was in our corner from day one, the show was mishandled right from the beginning."

The first season of "The Contender" focused on middleweights and ran on NBC, but was canceled shortly after Mora defeated Manfredo for the tournament title at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

ESPN picked up the show, which was co-produced by reality series hitmaker Mark Burnett, and ran two more seasons, a junior middleweight tournament in the summer of 2006 and a super middleweight tournament that concluded last fall.

Grady Brewer defeated Forbes in the second-season finale and Sakio Bika stopped Jaidon Codrington in the eighth round of the third-season conclusion in a wildly exciting, drama-filled slugfest that went down as one of the best fights of 2007.

During each season, the group of fighters selected to participate lived and trained together in a Los Angeles compound. Each episode culminated with a fight and the loser was eliminated from the tournament.

"We have the greatest respect for TOC, Jeff Wald, Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks and we stand by the quality of the show," Wechsler said. "But it's a very competitive marketplace and the ratings weren't as strong as they were the year prior."

Gomez's fame from the show was responsible for him landing a fight with popular Arturo Gatti last summer, and Gomez pulled the upset, knocking Gatti out and sending him into retirement. That victory paved the way for his big shot against Cotto on Saturday night.

The show was also responsible for Manfredo getting a shot at super middleweight world champion Joe Calzaghe in April 2007, although Manfredo was stopped in the third round.

Of all the fighters who participated on the series, Forbes has landed the biggest fight of them all -- a May 3 match against superstar Oscar De La Hoya.

Other former contestants also have found success after the show. In the past few weeks alone, third-season fighter Brian Vera scored a TKO upset against heralded prospect Andy Lee and Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, who was on the second season, upset former junior middleweight titleholder Kassim Ouma.

"The show ended on a high note with an amazing fight," Wechsler said of Bika-Codrington. "And now we have two alumni going into big fights. We're proud of our involvement in the series and the people who participated in the show. That some of these guys are fighting in these important fights shows their viability outside the series."

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.





  [april 2008]  
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
  


· CONTENDER, THE (VERSUS)









[11/26/14 - 11:15 AM]
Watch a Sneak Peek at a Special Bite-Sized "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" Airing Thanksgiving, After the Football Game, on FOX
Said installment, guest starring Eva Longoria, then airs in full on Sunday, November 30 at 8:30/7:30c.

[11/26/14 - 10:45 AM]
NBCSN Delivers Best F1 Season Ever for a Single Cable Network
NBCSN spins the numbers for its F1 coverage to date this season.

[11/26/14 - 10:45 AM]
Six Groups Battle for First Place on Wednesday, Dec. 17 in the Two-Hour Special Edition of "The Sing-Off"
Returning judges Jewel and Shawn Stockman will be joined by Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump while Nick Lachey is once again set as host.

[11/26/14 - 09:56 AM]
TNT Offers On-Demand Sneak Peek of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's New Series "Wake Up Call"
Fans will be able to watch the sneak peek episode through the Watch TNT app & www.tntdrama.com starting Thanksgiving Day.

[11/26/14 - 09:45 AM]
Nick Jonas to Perform Hit Single "Jealous" from Self-Titled Album on Monday, Dec. 1 Telecast of "The Voice"
Hot country newcomer RaeLynn is also set to perform on the Tuesday, December 2 telecast.

[11/26/14 - 09:14 AM]
NBCSN Presents "NASCAR America" Specials Recapping the Thrilling Top Moments of 2014
The specials began airing during "NASCAR America's" 30-minute 5 p.m. ET time slot on Nov. 19, with new episodes debuting Dec. 1, 2, 10 and 11, and culminating on Dec. 16 with the Top 20 Moments of 2014.

[11/26/14 - 09:08 AM]
CBS to Broadcast Special Editions of "The Late Late Show," Jan. 5 - March 6
Judd Apatow, Will Arnett, Wayne Brady, Drew Carey, Jim Gaffigan, Billy Gardell, Sean Hayes, Thomas Lennon, John Mayer and Kunal Nayyar are among the scheduled guest hosts.

[11/26/14 - 08:52 AM]
"The Voice" Ranks #1 in Adults 18-34 and All Key Adult-Female Demos in Its Time Period
NBC spins the numbers for Tuesday, November 25.

[11/26/14 - 08:37 AM]
ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" Jumps to Season Highs for Its Top Finale Performance in 4 Seasons
ABC spins the numbers for Tuesday, November 25.

[11/26/14 - 08:31 AM]
Tuesday's Broadcast Ratings: "Dancing with the Stars" Gives ABC First Demo Win of the Season
The Alphabet also leads the night among total viewers.

[11/26/14 - 08:14 AM]
USSA, NBC Sports Group and Universal Sports Network to Provide Unprecedented Coverage of 2014-15 U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Season
The partnership will result in a record 67 of hours of coverage this season across NBC, NBCSN, and Universal Sports.

[11/26/14 - 08:07 AM]
New Survey from National Geographic Channel and Kelton Global Timed to the Premiere of "Sleepless in America" Finds That Most Americans Sleep Less Than Eight Hours a Night
What's more alarming is that our efforts to get more rest could actually be doing more harm than good.

[11/25/14 - 05:08 PM]
Remaining Episodes of "Selfie" Will Be Available Weekly Starting Today on Hulu with a Plus Subscription
The series previously aired Tuesday nights at 8:00/7:00c on ABC.

[11/25/14 - 01:52 PM]
Hallmark Channel's "Countdown to Christmas" Is the Most Watched Network Among Women 25-54 for 4th Consecutive Weekend
The Hallmark Channel spins the numbers for Saturday, November 22 and Sunday, November 23.

[11/25/14 - 01:35 PM]
Video: Six New Videos for "Archer" Season Six
The electrifying new season of "Archer" premieres January 8 on FX.