Fans everywhere loved “The Contender,” the boxing reality TV show that made stars out of fighters like Peter Manfredo, Ishe Smith, Sergio Mora, Alfonso Gomez and others, and was presented by mega-stars Sly Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard. Now, according to various reports, the show is set to make a comeback later on this year on premium cable network Epix.
This, the fifth series of the show, has no confirmed weight class just yet (although Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reports how he has been informed how the middleweight division will be featured) but it will see 16 fighters take part, one again in an elimination competition. We’ve not seen “The Contender” on TV screens in quite a while, but at it’s most popular, in 2005 to 2008, it certainly did the business ratings-wise.
Fans enjoyed the way the fighters all lived together, how we got to know them on a personal level and how the initial unknowns became household names who earned good money. Some fighters from the earlier shows even went on to become world champion – Mora’s big upset of Vernon Forrest being a real surprise (Mora losing the return fight).
One things fans did not like, was the way the final fights from “The Contender” were heavily edited. According to Jeff Wald in speaking with ESPN, this will not happen in the new series; instead the five-round fights will be shown in full with no camera trickery.
Who knows how successful the new series will be, or which soon to be famous fighters will emerge. Epix are excited about the show, production of which will begin this April:
“Boxing belongs on premium pay television, and there is no better home for ‘The Contender’ than Epix,” Mark Burnett of MGM Television told ESPN. “We will tell stories of the fighters, their families and their difficult journeys in the emotionally compelling Contender style, so that viewers gets to vicariously ‘walk a mile’ in the boxers’ shoes.”
The more boxing on big TV the better, don’t you agree? I for one hope the new series of “The Contender” hits UK screens this year.