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)





[09/27/16 - 03:36 PM]
NBC's Beloved New Tuesday Drama "This Is Us" Receives Full-Season Order
The Peacock has ordered an additional five episodes of the network's critically beloved new drama series, bringing the full season order to 18.

[09/27/16 - 12:00 PM]
"The Strain" Renewed for Fourth and Final Season
"We sincerely thank Carlton Cuse, Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan and their creative team as well as the fantastic cast for three exciting seasons of The Strain," said Nick Grad.

[09/27/16 - 11:32 AM]
National Geographic Channel's Critically Acclaimed "Explorer" Set to Return on November 14 at 10:00 PM ET/PT as a Weekly Series in a New, Re-Imagined Format
Hosted by Richard Bacon, the documentary series will use a mix of intrepid field pieces, roundtable discussions and in-depth interviews in a continuation of the series' legacy of pushing the boundaries of journalism.

[09/27/16 - 10:49 AM]
Lifetime Announces Programming Event on Saturday, November 5 with Premiere of Original Movie, "Who Killed JonBenet?"
The film stars Eion Bailey, Michel Gill, Julia Campbell and Payton Lepinski as JonBenet.

[09/27/16 - 10:00 AM]
Starz Offers Bloody Good Time with Free Sampling of Original Series "Ash vs Evil Dead" Second Season Premiere Episode
A free multiplatform, nationwide sampling of the episode in its entirety will also be available online at Starz.com and through participating U.S. cable, satellite and Telco affiliates as well as participating OTT partners beginning Wednesday, September 28.

[09/27/16 - 09:15 AM]
"Family Time" Season Four Premieres Tues. Oct. 4 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Bounce TV
The series comedically chronicles the lives of the Stallworth family, headed by the dad Tony, a struggling general contractor played by Omar Gooding, and his wife Lisa, an unfulfilled stay-at-home mom portrayed by Angell Conwell.

[09/27/16 - 09:10 AM]
Monday's Broadcast Ratings: NBC Tops Coverage of the First Presidential Debate
Said 90-minute telecast draws a collective 45.3 million viewers between ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.

[09/27/16 - 07:01 AM]
Video: Netflix Releases Trailer & Key Art for "Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids"
The Netflix Original Film, which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, gives you the best seat in the house for the final show of the 20/20 Experience World Tour at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena.

[09/27/16 - 06:58 AM]
Sonar Entertainment Joins with Bavaria Fernsehproduktion and Sky Deutschland to Co-Produce and Distribute Eight-Episode Series "Das Boot"
The new production is set immediately after the events of Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 Oscar-nominated classic anti-war film, one of the most successful German films of all time.

[09/27/16 - 06:12 AM]
Amazon Studios Greenlights Three New Series for Prime Video
"I Love Dick," "Jean-Claude Van Johnson" and "The Tick" are all due next year on the streaming service.

[09/27/16 - 06:09 AM]
Video: Get Ready for "The Crown" - Official Trailer, Key Art and Brand New Images Released
"The Crown" tells the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II's early reign, revealing the personal intrigues, romances, and political rivalries behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th Century.

[09/26/16 - 02:07 PM]
More Roadtrips Are on the Way as Great American Country Renews Its Popular Series "Going RV"
Premiering in February 2017, the new 14-episode season follows families who decide to ditch ordinary daily life for an adventure out on the open road.

[09/26/16 - 12:09 PM]
Viceland Sets Premiere for Its First-Ever Daily, Late Night Show "Desus & Mero"
The show will air Mondays-Thursdays at 11:00/10:00c beginning Monday, October 17.

[09/26/16 - 11:33 AM]
Prepare to Be Scared with Syfy's Annual "31 Days of Halloween" Celebration
Among the highlights: "Channel Zero: Candle Cove," which will now premieres Tuesday, October 11 at 9:00/8:00c.

[09/26/16 - 11:14 AM]
Raise a Glass to An All-New Season of Bravo Media's "Vanderpump Rules" Premiering Monday, November 7 at 9PM ET/PT
The new season of "Vanderpump Rules" once again partners Lisa with Jax Taylor, Stassi Schroeder, Scheana Shay, Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix, James Kennedy, Katie Maloney, Tom Schwartz, Kristen Doute, and Lala Kent.