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'The Contender' reveals fourth season cast, Tony Danza to host


By John Bracchitta, 09/30/2008 

The Contender has revealed its fourth-season cast and announced Tony Danza will replace boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard as the host of the show's Versus edition, which will premiere on the network in December.

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The 11-episode reality boxing competition series -- which aired its first season on NBC and its next two on ESPN before Versus The Contender, which will premiere it's fourth-season on the network this December.">picked it up after SPN canceled it in July -- is currently filming in Singapore, ESPN.com reported Monday.

Similar to the show's earlier editions, The Contender's fourth season will follow sixteen boxers as they live and train together and compete in a single-elimination five-round fight tournament.  This year's tournament will feature 200-pound cruiserweight fighters (Season 3 featured 168-pound super middleweights, while Season 2 featured 147-pound welterweights and Season 1 featured 160-weight middlewights).

"We've just finished taping the fifth fight and the reports I have been getting back from Singapore are that these are the best fights we've had," The Contender co-executive producer and promoter Jeff Wald told ESPN.com. "With five-round fights in a 17-foot ring, these guys don't dance and hold. Mainly, they are toe-to-toe with nowhere to run."

The Contender's fourth season will culminate with a live two-hour finale that will feature the tournament's final two boxers fighting for the season's championship title on February 19.  Both the fight's location and the grand prize the boxers will be fighting for have yet to be determined, according to ESPN.com.

"I was in the interviews with all 16 of the guys and I think this is our best season yet personality-wise," Wald told ESPN.com. "I think the viewers are really going to be taken with these guys."

Danza compiled a record of 9-3 with 3 knockouts during a brief 1976-1979 pro career before he began pursuing acting.

"I couldn't be more excited to be hosting The Contender this season," Danza told ESPN.com. "Not only is it one of the best shows on television but one of the wildest shows ever dreamed up. I feel right back at home in this great boxing environment and I am looking forward to seeing this great group of fighters contend for the title."

Leonard was replaced due to scheduling conficts, according to ESPN.com.

Also joining the series' fourth season are trainers Tommy Brooks and John Bray, who will replace former show trainers Buddy McGirt and Pepe Correa.

The 16 fighters who will compete in the fourth season of The Contender -- along with their age, hometown, and prior professional record as detailed by ESPN.com -- are:

- Mike Alexander, 34, from Columbus, OH. 12-2, 8 KOs

- Felix Cora Jr., 28, from Galveston, TX. 18-2-2, 9 KOs

- Ryan Coyne, 26, from St. Louis, MO. 9-0 3 KOs

- Ehinomen "Hino" Ehikhamenor, 28, from Queens, NY. 12-3-0, 7 KOs

- Deon Elam, 28, from Van Nuys, CA. 9-0-0, 5 KOs

- Alfredo Escalera Jr., 28, from San Juan, Puerto Rico. 15-1-1, 11 KOs

- Tim Flamos, 41, from Brockton, MA. 20-4-1, 8 KOs

- Richard Gingras, 27, Claremont, NH. 9-1-0, 5 KOs

- Joell Godfrey, 27, from St. Louis, IL. 9-0-1, 5 KOs

- Rico Hoye, 33, from Detroit, MI. 20-2, 15 KOs

- Akinyemi "AK" Laleye, 27, from Las Vegas, NV 10-1, 5 KOs

- Troy Ross, 33, from Toronto, ON 17-1, 12 KOs

- Jon Schneider, 29, from Yonkers, NY. 7-2-1, 5 KOs

- Lawrence Tauasa, 29, from Sydney, AU. 30-5-1, 17 KOs

- Erick Vega, 29, from Phoenix, AZ. 8-2-1, 6 KOs

- Darnell "Ding-A-Ling Man" Wilson, 33, from Takoma Park, MD. 23-7-3, 20 KOs



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