Premium pay television network EPIX® has announced the 16 fighters who will be facing off with one another for the championship belt on the revival of boxing franchise series The Contender this fall. The highly anticipated 12-episode season, from MGM Television and Paramount Television, will premiere on EPIX on Aug. 24, 2018 at 10 PM ET/PT.
Hosted by undefeated boxing champion Andre “Son of God” Ward, the first-of-its-kind competitive documentary series for the network will feature 16 fighters pushing their limits in grueling elimination-style fights and testing their grit and determination to achieve their boxing dreams. The fighters will be overseen by legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach, and renowned Philadelphia trainer Naazim Richardson.
“The Contender takes unscripted TV to its grittiest. It has incredible professional fighters and real professional fights. The edge of your seat drama and true stories sets a tone that our audiences will be expecting and I love it,” said Mark Burnett, President of MGM Television.
“With this new iteration of The Contender, the focus is on the gritty, personal stories of the fighters battling for boxing glory,” said Michael Wright, President, EPIX. “It was important for us to find individuals who not only displayed the boxing chops and resilience in the ring, but who also showed a depth of heart and humor outside of it. Our 16 fighters are vivacious, tough, funny, sensitive, driven and inspiring, and we are excited for our fans to get to know their stories and root for them inside the ring and out.”
The 16 Contenders come from a wide variety of professional boxing backgrounds and stations in life, bringing their unique stories, personalities, strengths and motivations to the series.
Each fighter will be vying to be declared the new 160-pound middleweight champion of The Contender and take home the winner’s six-figure purse — a prize, which, for all the fighters, represents a better life for their families and loved ones who have been there with them through all the ups and downs of their journeys.
Here’s a look at the 16 participants:
• Ievgen Khytrov (16-1, 13 KOs), 29, a native of Ukraine fighting out of Brooklyn. A former top prospect who has won two fights in a row since he was upset by Immanuwel Aleem via sixth-round knockout in 17 months ago.
• Eric Walker (15-1, 8 KOs), 34, of Plaquemine, Louisiana. Incarcerated at 15 years old, he spent 14 years in prison for robbery and attempted murder. He learned to box in prison. He’s coming off his first loss, a 10-round decision to Patrick Day last July.
• John Thompson (18-3, 6 KOs), 29, of Newark, New Jersey. He won the 2015 ESPN Boxcino junior middleweight tournament, a win that landed him a vacant world title shot later in the year that he lost by seventh-round knockout to Liam Smith.
• Brandon Adams (17-2, 12 KOs), 28, of Los Angeles. He lost in the final of the 2014 ESPN Boxcino middleweight tournament and then won three fights in a row before losing to Thompson in the final of the 2015 ESPN Boxcino junior middleweight tournament. Adams has not fought since.
• Malcolm McAllister (9-1, 8 KOs), 27, of Long Beach, California. He turned pro in 2014 and is coming off his first loss, an eight-round decision to unbeaten prospect Chordale Booker.
• Quatavious Cash (10-0, 7 KOs), 26, of Las Vegas. The Atlanta native turned pro in 2012 but had a three-year layoff before returning in 2017. He’s a four-time Golden Gloves state champion.
• Shane Mosley Jr. (10-2, 7 KOs), 27, of Santa Monica, California. He’s the son of former pound-for-pound king and three-division champion Shane Mosley. He has not fought since an eight-round split-decision loss in Australia on the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn undercard.
• Daniel Valdivia (14-2, 10 KOs), 25, of Tulare, California. A real estate agent by day, he’s moving up in weight after consecutive eight-round decision losses to Vladimir Hernandez in his last two fights.
• Michael Moore (15-1, 7 KOs), 31, of Cleveland. He participated in the 2015 ESPN Boxcino junior middleweight tournament but lost in the quarterfinals. He’s fought only twice since, but won both bouts.
• Gerald Sherrell (8-0, 4 KOs), 24, of Pittsburgh. He’s a prospect who has been fighting four- and six-rounders. He grew up as a fan of the original “Contender” series.
• Morgan Fitch (18-1-1, 8 KOs), 34, of Pittsburgh. The married father of three lost for the first time when he stepped up in opposition, dropping a 10-round decision to 2012 Brazilian Olympic bronze medalist Yamaguchi Falcao in his last fight 13 months ago.
• Marcos Hernandez (11-1, 3 KOs), 24, of Fresno, California. Hernandez has yet to face any name opposition but he has overcome a lot in life after an accident left him with burns on 30 percent of his body, which led him to be bullied as a child. He’s raising an autistic son.
• Tyrone Brunson (26-6-2, 24 KOs), 33, of Philadelphia. He began his career with 19 consecutive first-round knockouts and is one of the most experienced fighters in the field. He knocked out former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron last year.
• Lamar Russ (17-2, 8 KOs), 31, of Wilmington, North Carolina. Began his career 14-0 until losing a decision to longtime contender Matthew Macklin on HBO in 2013.
• John Jackson (21-3, 16 KOs), 29, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The son of former world titleholder Julian Jackson fought for a vacant junior middleweight world title in 2016 and lost by eighth-round knockout to Jermell Charlo.
• Devaun Lee (10-3-1, 5 KOs), 30, of Queens, New York. Lee turned to boxing and away from the streets when he was 16 and a friend was shot and killed. He’s coming off a 10-round decision loss to Vaughn Alexander in March.