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 (EPIX)





[10/31/20 - 08:22 AM]
Friday's Broadcast Ratings: FOX Tops Demos with "WWE SmackDown"
The network holds off the competition among adults 18-49 while ABC is the most-watched broadcaster.

[10/31/20 - 08:18 AM]
Josh Gates Hosts Full Night of Adventure Every Wednesday on Discovery Channel Starting November 11
Look for "Josh Gates Tonight" and "Expedition X" back-to-back beginning at 8:00/7:00c.

[10/30/20 - 02:38 PM]
Billie Piper Stars as Suzie Pickles in "I Hate Suzie" - Coming Soon to HBO Max
Piper and Lucy Prebble reteam for the new series, due on November 19.

[10/30/20 - 01:00 PM]
"Country Strong 2020: Countdown to the CMA Awards" Airs Tuesday, Nov. 10, on ABC
The hour-long special includes interviews and appearances by some of country music's biggest stars.

[10/30/20 - 11:30 AM]
Holiday Cheer Is Right Around the Corner as ABC Announces Its Seasonal Programming Lineup
Highlights include fresh installments of "The Great Christmas Light Fight" and "The Disney Holiday Singalong."

[10/30/20 - 11:02 AM]
Spectrum Originals, AMC Networks and Platform One Media Turn on the Light for "Beacon 23"
After a nine-month exclusive run for Spectrum, the series will be an AMC original with a second window across AMC Networks platforms.

[10/30/20 - 10:30 AM]
FOX Makes First New Series Commitment for 2021-22 Season with Pick-Up of Docu-Com "This Country," from Jenny Bicks and Paul Feig
In the half-hour series, a documentary crew goes to a small town to study young adults and their current concerns.

[10/30/20 - 10:04 AM]
"Chappelle's Show," "Inside Amy Schumer," "Key & Peele," "Nathan for You" and "Reno 911" Available for Streaming November 1 on HBO Max as Part of Non-Exclusive Licensing Deal with Comedy Central
HBO Max has licensed non-exclusive streaming rights to five award-winning series from Comedy Central's vast library, further expanding the platform's curated portfolio.

[10/30/20 - 09:01 AM]
Showtime(R) Offers the Premiere Episode of New Comedy Series "Moonbase 8" for Free
Simultaneously, all episodes of the series will release for on-demand streaming or download on the Showtime and Showtime Anytime(R) apps and partner on-demand platforms for Showtime subscribers.

[10/30/20 - 09:00 AM]
HBO's "Transhood" Debuts November 12
Filmed over the course of five years in Kansas City, the documentary is an inspiring chronicle of the lives of four young people and their families as they each navigate growing up transgender in America's heartland.

[10/30/20 - 08:09 AM]
Thursday's Broadcast Ratings: FOX Claims Top Honors with "Thursday Night Football"
The network's NFL franchise once again leads the night in total viewers and adults 18-49.

[10/30/20 - 08:02 AM]
ESPN Unveils 35-Game College Football Bowl Season Schedule for 2020-21
The schedule features the College Football Playoff Semifinals (Friday, January 1) and the entire New Year's Six, culminating with the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T (Monday, January 11) from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

[10/30/20 - 07:31 AM]
HGTV Taps Eleven Superstar Property and Design Experts to Judge Renovated Spaces in Hit Competition Series "Rock the Block"
The rotating judges panel will include house-flipping phenom Tarek El Moussa and his real estate agent fiancée, Heather Rae Young, who together will decide which competitive duo creates the ideal kitchen for a potential buyer.

[10/30/20 - 07:25 AM]
Peacock Surprise Drop: "Sketchy Times with Lilly Singh" Late-Night Special - Available Now
In a one-woman, late-night special shot entirely from her home during quarantine, comedian and host Lilly Singh plays a wide variety of new and returning characters, satirizing how we're all adjusting to the new normal.

[10/30/20 - 06:41 AM]
iHeartMedia Rings in the Holiday Season with the 2020 "iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Presented by Capital One"
The CW will broadcast the event as an exclusive nationwide television special on Monday, December 14 at 8:00/7:00c.