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Fox's 'The Next Great Champ' to now debut in September

By Wade Paulsen, 07/21/2004 

The slugfest continues.

According a Daily Variety report on Fox's Television Critics Association press tour presentation, the network has announced that it is moving up the premiere date for its new boxing-reality show, The Next Great Champ, by two months. Champ will now premiere in September instead of the originally-planned date of November, just after the World Series ends, -- meaning that the series will have to find space on the Fox prime-time schedule during the end of the major league baseball season and the playoffs, which are also aired on Fox.

Fox's switch in schedule was not unexpected, though, since earlier in the week, NBC had announced that The Contender, the series that "inspired" (or, less politely, had its intellectual property copied by) The Next Great Champ, would move up to a November start date instead of its originally planned January debut.

As discussed previously, Fox has been trying to race its plethora of copycat reality shows to the airwaves prior to the shows that they rip off, in the hope that the first show to air will be seen by the viewing audience as the original ... and thus will be the most likely to succeed. Fox reality TV head Mike Darnell seems to believe that a two-month headstart, which both The Next Great Champ and Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy will now get over the original shows, is sufficient to boost the chances of his shows while also hurting the chances of the originals.

Meanwhile, Richard Schaefer, the president of Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Enterprises, dismissed the seriousness of The Next Great Champ's problems with the California Boxing Commission, Schaefer claimed that Golden Boy was the biggest promoter of boxing matches in California and that he expected a favorable resolution with the commission following a hearing today (July 21).

At the same time, the head of Champ co-producer Endemol USA, whose parent company is in shambles following the departure of founder John de Mol, claimed that his company did everything above board while Mark Burnett and Jeffrey Katzenberg (DreamWorks SKG), the executive producers of The Contender, are "the ones who seem to want to make it a battle of the airwaves."

A jab, a block, and another jab. We await the bell for the start of Round 4.

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