The boxing reality series The Contender is returning, and it will air on pay TV channel Epix. Epix is available on many content providers and carriers, but not DirecTV. Retired boxer Andre Ward will be the host of the reboot, while trainers Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson will participate.
Back in the mid-to-late aughts, NBC, ESPN, and Versus (now NBCSN) aired the reality series. The series was first hosted by Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard, eventually leading into Leonard alone and finally, Tony Danza. Over the course of the series, two teams (creatively named “East” and “West”) were pitted against each other, with one fighter being eliminated each week.
If you think that formula sounds like Survivor, then you would be right. Reality show maven Mark Burnett, who produces Survivor, was behind the original Contender series and will be back at the helm of this reboot.
The show is set to begin filming this spring in Los Angeles.
According to Deadline, the premise is similar to the original series:
Roach and Richardson each will oversee a team of eight fighters, pushing their fighting skills, strength and endurance to the limit in preparation for elimination competitions. They also will act as the fighters’ mentor, helping them to navigate their everyday life as the competitors live and train together and fight each other in the ring. Each fighter will be vying to become the ultimate Contender and take the winner’s six-figure purse.
The show will have a 12 episode run. Over his pro career, Ward was 32-0 and claimed both the super middleweight and light heavyweight titles.
Najai Turpin, a first season cast member, committed suicide weeks before the series premiered and the producers decided not to edit him out. They eventually set up a trust fund for his daughter.
The show is slated for a late 2018 premiere on Epix.