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)





[02/11/16 - 02:49 PM]
FOX Sports Secures National Television Rights to Titans of Mavericks Big Wave Surfing Event
"This winter has already seen some of the biggest waves ridden around the world," says Melissa Forman.

[02/11/16 - 02:33 PM]
CMT's "Party Down South" Boosts Thursday Night Programming Block with Strong Premiere and Double-Digit Growth in Week 2
CMT further spins the numbers for Thursday, January 28 and Thursday, February 4.

[02/11/16 - 01:51 PM]
AMC Orders New Late-Night Talk Show, "Geeking Out" (Working Title)
The 30-minute show will take a timely look at pop culture through a fanboy lens and feature talk, clips, celebrity interviews and out-of-the-studio segments.

[02/11/16 - 01:28 PM]
Video: "Silicon Valley" - Season 3 Tease (HBO)
The pay channel releases the first tease for the new season, premiering Sunday, April 24.

[02/11/16 - 01:13 PM]
The CW Sets Upcoming Premiere Dates and Returns
Highlights include the premiere of "Containment" (Tuesday, April 19) and the return of "Reign" (Monday, April 25) and "Beauty and the Beast" (Thursday, June 2).

[02/11/16 - 01:09 PM]
History's Epic Event Series "Roots" Set to Premiere on Memorial Day 2016
"Roots" will be simulcast on A&E and Lifetime, in addition to History.

[02/11/16 - 11:40 AM]
HGTV "Fixer Upper" Crushed Cable Ratings Among P25-54 and W25-54 on Tuesday Night
HGTV spins the numbers for Tuesday, February 9.

[02/11/16 - 11:36 AM]
Hulu Acquires Exclusive Streaming Rights to Syfy's "12 Monkeys" in New Deal with NBCUniversal
Through the deal, Hulu acquires a full library of programming for series "Battlestar Galactica" and "Saved by the Bell," which are available to stream now.

[02/11/16 - 11:20 AM]
Animal Planet's "Insane Pools: Off the Deep End" Transforms Boring Pools Into Backyard Paradises
This season, the team dives into a slew of firsts, including some of their biggest builds, new locations and extreme, never-before-attempted creations.

[02/11/16 - 11:08 AM]
"The Willis Family" Returns to TLC with a Music and Family-Filled Second Season
The Willis are back with an all-new type of balancing act as they swap life on the road for their home in Nashville in the new season premiering on Tuesday, March 15.

[02/11/16 - 11:01 AM]
"LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures" Is Coming to Disney XD this Summer
The fun-filled adventure comedy series will introduce all-new heroes and villains in exciting adventures with many familiar Star Wars characters.

[02/11/16 - 10:05 AM]
FYI(TM) Premieres New Original Series "Bride & Prejudice" Tuesday, March 8 at 9PM ET/PT
The series follows three star-crossed couples who desperately want to get married, but whose prejudiced family members do not approve of their unions.

[02/11/16 - 10:01 AM]
Multiple Grammy Award Winners Yolanda Adams and Michael W. Smith to Perform on "The Passion"
Adams will kick off the show with a special live performance and Smith has been tapped for a role as one of Jesus' disciples.

[02/11/16 - 09:51 AM]
Spike's "Bar Rescue" Celebrates 100th Episode on Sunday, March 6 at 9/8c
For said installment, Jon Taffer heads to a Minneapolis, MN suburb to settle the score between two feuding bar owners at Mac & Chester's and SRO.

[02/11/16 - 09:31 AM]
Disney Junior's "Doc McStuffins" to Feature Adoption Storyline When the McStuffins Family Welcomes a Baby This Spring
"Doc McStuffins" has been lauded globally for its imaginative storytelling about a young girl who aspires to be a doctor like her mom and runs a clinic for stuffed animals and toys.