Mark Burnett’s 12-Episode Boxing Competition Series Reveals 16 Fighters Vying for the Champion Belt
by Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins
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.
The 16 fighters on The Contender this season are:
Ievgen “The Ukranian Lion” Khytrov, Age: 29, Rank: 20, Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.- A Ukrainian immigrant, Olympian, Ievgen Khytrov recently relocated to America to pursue his dream of becoming a world champion and to create a better life for his family. A dedicated, quiet, religious man. He’s also the one to beat.
Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker, Age: 34, Rank: 68, Hometown: Plaquemine, La. – Incarcerated at 15 years old and spent 14 years behind bars for robbery and attempted murder, Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker learned to box while in prison. He is now fighting for a second chance at life, living proof that it’s never too late to live out your dreams.
John “Apollo Kid” Thompson, Age: 29, Rank: 70, Hometown: Newark, N.J. – After losing his mother to AIDS at six years old, this married performing artist, painter and fighter, John “Apollo Kid” Thompson is here to prove to the world that he can’t be boxed into a single category despite holding impressive titles including the 2015 WBA-NABA Super Welterweight, WBO Inter-Continental Super Welterweight and Boxcino Tournaments.
Malcolm “The Punisher” McAllister, Age: 27, Rank: 172, Hometown: Long Beach, Calif. – Always at the center of schoolyard fights growing up, Malcolm “The Punisher” McAllister now channels his energy into helping others rebuild outside of foreclosure and his young, growing family. In boxing has built an impressive KO record and the 2014 Golden Gloves title on his journey to take the title of The Contender.
Brandon “The Cannon” Adams, Age: 28, Rank: Inactive, Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif. – A bold fighter in the ring, Brandon “The Cannon” Adams knows firsthand what it means to push through adversity and step up to care for his family when there’s no one else around to. Coming from a poverty stricken neighborhood, this larger than life father of two marks his return to boxing after a three year hiatus, initiated by a loss to fellow competitor, John Thompson.
Quatavious “Cash” Cash, Age: 26, Rank: 161, Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev. – This Atlanta native is the current record-holder for fastest KO in Georgia, a four0time Golden Gloves state champ and Bronze medalist. Quatavious Cash is fighting for his late mother and for the chance to prove that a life of fighting street gangs can be channeled for good.
Shane “Sugarman” Mosley, Jr., Age: 27, Rank: 149, Hometown: Santa Monica, Calif. – The lone single contender, son of legendary Hall of Fame boxer “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Shane “Sugarman” Mosley Jr. is fighting to step out of his father’s shadow and carve out his own legacy.
Daniel “El Chapulin” Valdivia, Age: 25, Rank: 116, Hometown: Tulare, Calif. – A natural salesman and real estate agent by day, nicknamed “El Chapulin” (“Grasshopper”) for his boundless energy, Mexican immigrant Daniel Valdivia was born to step into the ring. With several titles including the NABF Super Welterweight Champion as an underdog, he’s chasing fame to prove giving up college for boxing was the right move.
Michael “The Silverback” Moore, Age: 31, Rank: 252, Hometown:Cleveland, Oh. – Reformed from a hard life on the streets, fraught with drugs, death and family suicide, Michael Moore is a natural hustler and leader. Married with two kids, Moore is constantly moving from state to state with his family in tow in pursuit of the boxing dream.
Gerald “G5” Sherrell, Age: 24, Rank: 216, Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa. – A fan of the original Contender series growing up, Gerald “G5” Sherrell is an undefeated and explosive fighter with a level of unrivaled and self-proclaimed swagger. Hailing from the projects, this multiple time Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves and Junior Olympic competitor, this local zoo security guard by day, and young father by night, is looking to bring boxing glory back to his hometown of Pittsburgh.
Morgan “Big Chief” Fitch, Age: 34, Rank: 154, Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa. – Injury-plagued throughout his career, the Native American hailing from Southern Louisiana is a married father of three. Knowing that he’s old for the sport, Morgan “Big Chief” Fitch has one last shot at making his boxing dreams come true.
Marcos “Mad Man” Hernandez, Age: 24, Rank: 104, Hometown: Fresno, Calif. – Having been bullied from a young age after an accident left him with burns on 30 percent of his body, Marcos “Mad Man” Hernandez is fighting for his young autistic son, in hopes that he won’t be bullied the same way he was. With Junior Olympics, 2012 Blue and Gold titles and “Mexican-go-forward” style fighting he may be overlooked and underestimated.
Tyrone “Young Gun” Brunson, Age: 33, Rank: 39, Hometown: Philadelphia, PA – At a time when he needed to sell drugs to support himself at the age of 13, a stepfather’s ultimatum: be grounded or go to the boxing gym was his saving grace. Now a humble father of two, and sitting with one of the best rankings in the competition, his 24 KO’s send a signal that he will not fight silently but his cocky attitude has beat him more than just once.
Lamar “Omega” Russ, Age: 31, Rank: 115, Hometown: Wilmington, N.C. – One of four kids raised by a single mom and the first person in his family to graduate college, Lamar “Omega” Russ takes pride in being the underdog, and beneath the loud exterior is a boxer that needs to prove he can put his money where his mouth is. HBO, ESPN and a first round KO on Showtime do all the talking.
John “The Rock” Jackson, Age: 29, Rank: 63, Hometown: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – A divorced father of two, this slick and agile boxer, Virgin Islander John “The Rock” Jackson started fighting at 12 years old, following in his world champion father Julian Jackson’s footsteps at the Pan American Games and 2008 Olympics. He comes from wealth but cares for the underprivileged and dreams of making his island proud bringing visibility to those struck by recent natural disasters.
Devaun “Unique” Lee, Age: 30, Rank: 82, Hometown: Jamaica Queens, N.Y.
When one of his friends was shot and killed at 16, Devaun “Unique” Lee knew he needed a way out from the mean streets of Queens. Boxing keeps him straight. So do long hours fueling airplanes and caring for his five year old daughter. The real love of his life. Fatherhood and the sport are the motivation to take his NY State Middleweight championship to the next level.
The original Contender series ran for four seasons (2005-2009) and launched multiple fighters into contention for world titles, including title winners Sergio Mora, Cornelius Bundrage, Sakio Bika, and Sam Soliman.
Eric Van Wagenen serves as executive producer and showrunner of the revived franchise alongside Mark Burnett. The format is owned by MGM Television and Paramount Television.
EPIX is available nationwide through cable, satellite, telco and streaming TV providers including Charter Spectrum, Cox, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Dish Network, Sling, PlayStation Vue and, as of June 13, Comcast.
About MGM Television
MGM Television is a leading producer and global distributor of premium content for television and digital platforms, with distribution rights to original productions and a robust catalog of television episodes and feature film titles including such premiere entertainment franchises as James Bond, Rocky, Stargate and The Hobbit trilogy. Current scripted and unscripted projects include Fargo (FX); Vikings (HISTORY); The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu); Get Shorty (EPIX); The Voice (NBC); Survivor (CBS); Shark Tank (ABC); Teen Wolf (MTV); Steve Harvey’s FUNDERDOME (ABC); Beat Shazam (FOX); Signed (VH1); Lucha Underground (The El Rey Network); and through its distribution entity, Orion TV Productions, the syndicated daytime courtroom series Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court and Couples Court with The Cutlers. In addition, MGM owns Evolution Media, the innovative unscripted television producers of The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules, Vanderpump Rules: Jax and Brittany Take Kentucky, and Sweet Home Oklahoma (Bravo); Botched (E!); Bug Juice (Disney Channel) and Growing Up Supermodel (Lifetime). MGM’s television programming regularly airs in more than 100 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.mgm.com.
EPIX, an MGM company, is a premium pay television network, delivering the latest movie releases and biggest classic film franchises, plus original programming including series, documentaries, and comedy specials – all available on TV, on demand, online and across devices. Launched in October 2009, EPIX became profitable in its first year of existence and is now available nationwide to 70 million homes through cable, telco, satellite and emerging digital distribution platforms. A pioneer in the development and proliferation of “TV Everywhere,” EPIX was the first premium network to provide multi-platform access to its content online at EPIX.com and to launch on Xbox, PlayStation®, Android phones and tablets, and Roku® players. EPIX is also available across hundreds of consumer devices including Apple TV, iPhone and iPad, Amazon Fire TV, TiVo, Chromecast, and Android TV, delivering more movies than any other network with thousands of titles available for streaming. For more information about EPIX, go to www.EPIX.com. Follow EPIX on Twitter @EpixHd (http://www.twitter.com/EpixHD) and on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/EPIX), YouTube (http://youtube.com/EPIX), Instagram (http://instagram.com/EPIX) and Snapchat @EPIXTV.
About Paramount Television
Paramount Television is a leading studio, developing and financing a wide range of cutting-edge and entertaining television content across all media platforms for distribution worldwide. The studio’s robust slate includes Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” (Amazon), “13 Reasons Why” (Netflix), “Maniac” (Netflix), “Shooter” (USA), “Berlin Station” (EPIX), “The Alienist” (TNT), “The Haunting of Hill House” (Netflix), “Catch-22” (Hulu), “First Wives Club” (Paramount Network), “Looking for Alaska” (Hulu), “Briarpatch” (USA), “Boomerang” (BET), “Shantaram” (Apple), “Dream Team” (BET), “The Contender” (EPIX) and “Snow Crash” (Amazon), among others. Paramount Television is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment. PPC is a subsidiary of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a global content company with premier television, film and digital entertainment brands.