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)









[12/19/14 - 03:15 PM]
David Schwimmer Cast as Attorney Robert Kardashian in "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson"
He'll join the previously announced Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark.

[12/19/14 - 12:47 PM]
"Whale Wars" Returns to Animal Planet January 2 with a World Premiere Three-Hour Event
Under legal siege, Captain Paul Watson is forced to hand the mission over to youthful veteran Peter Hammarstedt following a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

[12/19/14 - 11:58 AM]
Velocity and Discovery Channel Announce the On Air Team for Barrett-Jackson Live
Coverage begins Tuesday, January 13 from 6-8 PM ET on Discovery Channel and continues through Sunday, January 18 from 2-7 PM ET on Velocity.

[12/19/14 - 10:12 AM]
"Night Will Fall," Revealing the Untold Story of a 1945 Film Detailing Concentration-Camp Atrocities, Debuts Jan. 26, Exclusively on HBO
The film juxtaposes horrific raw footage and scenes from the 1945 documentary with insights from the survivors, the soldiers who liberated them and the filmmakers who recorded these appalling images.

[12/19/14 - 10:02 AM]
USA Network Announces Series Pick-Up for New Drama "Mr. Robot"
The series stars Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin and Martin Wallstrom.

[12/19/14 - 10:02 AM]
Starz Releases New Video and Image from "Outlander"
The release is part of Starz's 25 Days of #OutlanderOfferings that has been giving fans something extra special for the holidays to get them through the #Droughtlander.

[12/19/14 - 10:00 AM]
AMC Casts International Film Star Daniel Wu as Lead of "Badlands" (WT)
The series tells the story of a ruthless, well-trained warrior named Sunny (Wu) and a young boy who embark on a journey across a dangerous land to find enlightenment.

[12/19/14 - 09:20 AM]
"@midnight" Moves to 11:30 p.m. for Two Weeks Only; Comedy Central Premieres "Ari Shaffir: Paid Regular" and "This Is Not Happening" in January
The premiere episode of "This Is Not Happening" will be available on Amazon Instant Video on January 12 and in the Comedy Central App on January 13.

[12/19/14 - 08:41 AM]
"The People Magazine Awards" Generates NBC's Biggest Audience in Its Slot, Excluding "Peter Pan Live!" and NFL, Since October 23
NBC spins the numbers for Thursday, December 18.

[12/19/14 - 08:39 AM]
Emmy(R)-Winning Series "Banshee" Returns for Third Season Jan. 9, Exclusively on Cinemax
New guest stars this season include Denis O'Hare, Chaske Spencer, Tom Pelphrey and Meaghan Rath.

[12/19/14 - 08:25 AM]
Thursday's Broadcast Ratings: Comedies Power CBS to Top Spot
A repeat "The Big Bang Theory" and a new "Mom" lead the night among adults 18-49.

[12/19/14 - 08:08 AM]
Season Two of "My Big Redneck Family" Premieres Saturday, January 17 at 9 P.M., ET/PT
Tom Arnold is back to host the 13-episode second season as this lovable gang faces more parenting problems, marital misadventures and questionable career moves than ever before.

[12/19/14 - 08:03 AM]
First-Time People's Choice Award Nominee Iggy Azalea and Last Year's People's Choice Award Winner Fall Out Boy to Perform at "People's Choice Awards 2015"
They will join the lineup with recently announced performers Lady Antebellum.

[12/19/14 - 08:00 AM]
FOX's TV Everywhere Content Now Available to More Than 20 Million DirecTV Customers Nationwide
In addition, DirecTV will make the feeds of FX, FXX, FS1, FS2, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD available for out-of-home streaming on the DirecTV Everywhere platform.

[12/19/14 - 07:28 AM]
Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern Gives Viewers a Tasty Look at Foods That Define Global Locations on New Series "Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations"
The 13-episode series, an extension of the popular "Bizarre Foods" franchise, takes viewers on an international journey to iconic cities around the world for a taste of their quintessential, not-to-be missed dishes.