Former champion Andre “Son of God” Ward — who retired last year with an undefeated record — is set to host The Contender, Mark Burnett’s revived reality series that will bow on Epix later this year. Legendary trainers Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson will serve as trainers on the series, which launched multiple boxers into contention for world titles during its original 2005-09 run.
Burnett is producing the 12-episode series along with his longtime executive producer Eric Van Wagenen. MGM Television and Paramount Television are producing, with filming set to begin this spring in Los Angeles.
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.
Said Ward, who compiled a 32-0 record over 13 years and won world titles as a super middleweight and light heavyweight: “I have faced the unique challenges of professional boxing firsthand and know the focus required to succeed at the highest level. Hosting a show that has enabled so many talented fighters reach their dreams is an honor, and I look forward to giving the fans unique insight into the life of a fighter and leading the audience through the thrills of this competition.”
Ward also won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The original Contenders, which Burnett also created and aired on NBC, ESPN and Versus, series was hosted at various times by Sylvester Stallone, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tony Danza. Airing from 2005-09, its four seasons were seen by 180 million cumulative viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.