Andre Ward has solidified his status as boxing’s other TBE. Not for an over the top personality he never cared to display or even seemingly just for the riches that boxing can reward its chosen faithful. No, in the words of Queens poet laureate Nasir Jones ‘I did it my way’ is the legacy that Andre Ward leaves on the game and he still is an integral part of the machine.
To that end, The Contender is a new version of the seminal boxing franchise executive produced by Emmy award-winning producer Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank) and Eric Van Wagenen, who also serves as the showrunner.
The 12-episode competitive boxing docuseries is hosted by undefeated boxing champion Andre Ward and premieres tonight on EPIX at 9 PM ET/PT.
The series was filmed in Los Angeles, CA and I had the pleasure of attending one of the early matches in the season. The doghouse style atmosphere was intoxicating and the intrigue was excruciatingly sweet. This new version of the seminal competitive boxing series will showcase 16 middleweight fighters vying for a six-figure prize and the title of The Contender.
Legendary trainers Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson each oversaw a team of eight fighters, that lived and trained together, fighting each other in the ring. As the boxers tested their mettle in the ring, the series chronicles their day-to-day triumphs, struggles, and raw emotion, as well as shed light on the personal stories at the heart of their individual journeys to this championship.
As the boxers prepare for elimination competitions, the trainers will push the fighters to build their skills, endurance, and strength while mentoring them and helping them to navigate their everyday life.
With boxing clearly back in a major way and heavyweight fights alongside amazing welterweight and middleweight fights close on the horizon, The Contender provides yet another positive outlet for boxers to grow their brand and receive tutelage from the best example you could have next to Money May. With the careful curation and deft hand of Ward and Mark Burnett, The Contender might actually incubate a new generation of boxing hopefuls turned true title contenders. Pun very intended.