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FOX announces identities of 'The Next Great Champ' boxers


By Wade Paulsen, 07/10/2004 

Give Fox credit -- it isn't bashful about trying to steal Mark Burnett's idea.

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Even though the Fox series The Next Great Champ won't start airing until after the end of the baseball World Series in October, Fox and series producer Endemol USA have already announced the names and personal details of the twelve aspiring boxers from across the country who will be competing on the show, which will be hosted and co-produced by Mexican-American boxing superstar Oscar de la Hoya. The winner will earn a professional contract with de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.

"We've found 12 talented, determined, courageous young boxers who want their chance at stardom," said de la Hoya. "We will push them to their limits to see which ones have the heart of a champion. And, for the first time, the audience will get to see the daily sacrifices and struggles, the joy and pain in the career of a young fighter. We'll show you how champions are made."

Note the emphasis in de la Hoya's quote on "for the first time." As previously documented, part of Fox's current reality-TV business strategy appears to be to rip off other producers' reality shows -- in this case Mark Burnett and NBC's The Contender -- and then get its version to the airwaves first, making the creator of the show look like a copycat. Seen from that perspective, the early release of contestant information for a show not debuting until late October is simply another step in the process of making your show appear to be the leader, not the follower.

We admit that we predicted this strategy before Fox implemented it, but that doesn't make us like it any better.

The Next Great Champ permits each of the 12 fighters, who range in age from 20 to 31, to be accompanied by a confidant (or confidante) from his personal life, such as a wife, girlfriend or family member. The personal relationships are intended to humanize the boxers by adding an opportunity for viewers to see the fight game -- and the fighters themselves -- through the eyes of an outsider.

As the fighters continue their preparations, they'll undergo a series of workout regimens crafted by other professional fighters and trainers, some of whom will appear on the show. Along the way, de la Hoya's "host" role is to be a mentor, friend and motivator to the remaining ones. In other words, de la Hoya will play the same role as Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman and Jackie Kallen play on The Contender.

Over the course of the series, the winners will advance from challenge to challenge, round to round, and fight to fight. The stakes to be the last man standing are high as there can be only one person earning the title of The Next Great Champ.

The 12 fighters, their nicknames (was that a requirement?), their confidants and their pro or amateur records are as follows:

• James "Marvelous Mince" Mince, 26 (New Orleans, LA)
Confidant: Elgin Melancon (uncle)
Pro 4-0 (4 KO's)

• Rene "Lone Star" Armijo Jr., 20 (El Paso, TX)
Confidant: Rene Armijo Sr. (father)
Pro 1-0

• Fred "Boom Boom" Bachmann, 31 (Philadelphia, PA)
Confidant: Lance Bachman (brother)
Pro 3-0 (1 KO)

• Mike "Pit Bull" Vallejo, 27 (Miami, FL)
Confidante: Glenda Santiago (fiancée)
Amateur 22-3

• Luis "The Body Snatcher" Corps, 30 (Miami, FL)
Confidante: Christy Monteaguedo (girlfriend)
Pro 1-1

• David "Danger" Pareja, 26 (Chicago, IL)
Confidante: PJ Pareja (wife)
Amateur 41-14

• Otis "Triple O.G." Griffin, 26 (Sacramento, CA)
Confidante: Schonette James (sister)
Amateur 9-1

• Arsenio "R.C. Rey" Reyes, 27 (Miami, FL)
Confidant: Arturo Reyes (brother)
Pro 3-0

• Paul "The Perfect Storm" Scianna, 30 (South Orange, NJ)
Confidante: Stephanie Scianna (sister)
Amateur 17-5

• Mohamad "The Monarch" Elmahmoud, 23 (Orlando, FL)
Confidante: Amanda Cooper (girlfriend)
Amateur 15-4

• Lawrence "Lights Out" Alonzo, 29 (Ontario, CA)
Confidante: Andrea Yamas (girlfriend)
Amateur 8-4 (5 KO's)

• Gilbert "The General" Zaragoza, 29 (Sacramento, CA)
Confidante: Deanna Zaragoza (sister)
Pro: 1-0

The Next Great Champ is produced by Endemol USA. Executive producers are Paul Buccieri and Joe Livecchi.

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