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)





[03/25/17 - 08:29 AM]
Friday's Broadcast Ratings: NCAA Coverage Puts CBS on Top
The Eye easily wins the evening in total viewers and adults 18-49.

[03/24/17 - 02:58 PM]
TV One Premieres "The Lost Souls Cafe" on Easter Sunday, April 16 at 6 pm ET
Loretta Devine, Christian Keyes, Kiki Haynes and Ernest L. Thomas star in the film adaptation of Donald Welch's popular inspirational stage play.

[03/24/17 - 01:20 PM]
"Into the Badlands" Is 2017's #1 Returning Cable Series
AMC further spins the numbers for Sunday, March 19.

[03/24/17 - 10:51 AM]
Univision Network Casts Marco de la O as Star of New Boundary-Breaking Original Series "El Chapo"
The new ripped-from-the-headlines drama explores the life story of one of the world's most notorious criminals over a span of three decades - from 1985, when he was a low level member of the Guadalajara Cartel, his rise to power and his ultimate downfall.

[03/24/17 - 10:38 AM]
John Leguizamo Joins the Cast of "Waco" - Premieres on Paramount Network in 2018
Leguizamo joins the cast as ATF agent Robert Rodriguez, who was was sent into Koresh's Mount Carmel to gather evidence and build a federal case against the Branch Davidians but forged a bond with the people inside.

[03/24/17 - 10:05 AM]
Discovery Channel Revs Up Motor Line-Up with New Series "House of Cars" (W/T)
The series, produced by Coolfire Studios, is an original unscripted series that proves building cars isn't just for the pros - it's for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to test their chops on a big build.

[03/24/17 - 10:00 AM]
Leah Remini and Kevin James Reunite on the Two-Part Season Finale of the #1 New Comedy "Kevin Can Wait"
In the two-part finale, Kevin agrees to come out of retirement briefly to reprise his undercover assignment in an ongoing police investigation where he and fellow cop Vanessa Cellucci (Remini) will, once again, pose as husband and wife.

[03/24/17 - 09:30 AM]
AMC to Air Special Edition of "Talking" After Show Following the "Better Call Saul" Season Three Premiere and Finale Episodes
Hosted by Chris Hardwick, the hour-long talk show will feature series cast, producers and celebrity fans discussing the Emmy(R) nominated series' third season.

[03/24/17 - 08:41 AM]
Thursday's Broadcast Ratings: CBS Pulls in Front with NCAA Coverage
The Eye wins the night among total viewers and adults 18-49.

[03/24/17 - 08:02 AM]
"J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only, A Dreamville Film," The Grammy-Nominated Music Star's Second HBO Special, Debuts April 15
In the spirit of his previous outing, this exclusive presentation is a multi-narrative show that combines music performances with intimate interviews documented through Cole's lens.

[03/24/17 - 08:00 AM]
"Charlie Hustle" & "The Big Hurt" Reunite as MLB Analysts for FOX Sports' 2017 Season
"Charlie Hustle" and "The Big Hurt" add to an already impressive baseball cast for FOX Sports, which also includes World Series Champions Alex Rodriguez, and Nick Swisher.

[03/24/17 - 07:26 AM]
Giada De Laurentiis Returns to Her Family's Homeland and Showcases the Food and Culture of Florence in New Season of "Giada in Italy," Premiering Sunday, April 9th at 12PM ET/PT
The series shares Giada's passion for all things Italy - especially the food.

[03/24/17 - 02:52 AM]
Academy Award Winner Adrien Brody Joins "Peaky Blinders" for Series Four
Tom Hardy returns as Jewish gang leader Alfie Solomons, alongside series regulars Natasha O'Keefe and Packy Lee.

[03/23/17 - 07:32 PM]
"This Just In" Celebrates First Daytime Emmy Nomination
Since "This Just In's" 22 episode critically acclaimed first season on PopTV continues to be an overwhelming success, a second season is already planned.

[03/23/17 - 02:46 PM]
CBS Announces Mario Lopez as Host of "Candy Crush" Premiering Sunday, July 9 on CBS
In the new CBS series, the game that has become a worldwide phenomenon comes to life as teams of two people use their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous, interactive game boards featuring next generation technology.