The Contender: Boxing Series Cancelled for a Second Time — Will It Return for Round Three?

The ContenderThe Contender boxing competition series started its run on NBC back on March 7, 2005. Produced by Mark Burnett and hosted by Rocky veteran Sylvester Stallone and boxer/trainer Sugar Ray Leonard, the reality show followed 16 middle-weights as they competed for a million dollar prize. The show garnered low-ratings and viewership wasn’t likely helped by the suicide of one of the eliminated competitors. the series was cancelled after one season.

A few months later, ESPN picked up the series. The cable channel dropped most of the show’s extraneous elements and focused on the boxer training and matches. The Contender has aired on ESPN for two seasons but now the sports channel says that they’re finished with it as well.

ESPN vice president of series development and production Ron Wechsler tells, “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.” He added, “We have the greatest respect for TOC, Jeff Wald, Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks and we stand by the quality of the show. But it’s a very competitive marketplace and the ratings weren’t as strong as they were the year prior.”

Wald, one of the show’s executive producers, says that the boxing series isn’t down for the count just yet. He notes, “We’re sorry it didn’t work out at ESPN, but we’re in the process of making another deal.” He wouldn’t say where the show might land but hinted, “Hopefully, the deal we are working on will be closed in the next few days. The Contender is the show that will not die.” Both HBO and Showtime have reportedly both indicated that they’re not interested.


The executive producer feels that ESPN is to blame for any ratings issues, saying, “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.” Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

Canceled and renewed TV show

18 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. says

    I really miss the show and it should come back soon but
    With the welterweights, the show really inspired me to keep
    Fighting as a boxer and one day I wanted to be on the show
    So if Yall decide to bring it back please let me know how to
    Sign up for it cuz I would love to fight in it.

  2. jamia says

    I loved watching contender every week I am shocked that this happened. Please bring the show back. We all want this to come back. Please come up with up something soon,make the cable paying customers happy so we all can be happy,please don’t have us wait too long.

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