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‘The Contender’ returns in Fall 2018 with new 12-episode season on EPIX

Fighters Network

The Contender, the show that jump-started the careers of future titleholders like Ishe Smith and Sergio Mora, is returning to television.

The boxing reality series will come back in the fall with a new, 12-episode season on EPIX, it was announced Monday. Sixteen fighters will battle it out for a six-figure prize, and more importantly, to grab recognition in an attempt to springboard their careers.

“Boxing belongs on premium pay television and there is no better home for The Contender than EPIX,” said series producer Mark Burnett, a guru of reality TV responsible for shows like Shark Tank and The Apprentice. “We will tell stories of the fighters, the families and their difficult journeys in the emotionally compelling Contender style so that viewers get to vicariously walk a mile in the boxers’ shoes.”

The weight class of the fighters wasn’t revealed, but the athletes will be divided into two teams to train, with a “renowned boxing coach” overseeing each squad.

The show debuted in 2005 on NBC and ran each of the next three years, with the network home moving to ESPN for Seasons 2 and 3 before it culminated on Versus (now NBCSN).

This is the first time the show will be on premium cable, which should add a new element with far less censorship.

The Contender has launched the careers of many fighters, with some Contenders taking world titles,” said Michael Wright, President of EPIX, a network that once televise boxing matches like Alexander Povetkin-Marco Huck and David Haye-Dereck Chisora. “But this new iteration of the series will also showcase the heart, spirit and dramatic personal stories of these fighters as they fight in and out of the ring to realize their dreams.

“This is not only real boxing, but real, raw human storytelling from the best unscripted television production team in the world.”