Contender drops host Sugar Ray Leonard for Tony Danza, announces boxers

Besides changing networks and moving to Singapore, the boxing reality competition series The Contender will now be hosted by Tony Danza, of Taxi and Who’s the Boss fame.

Danza, who was a professional boxer in the 1970s, replaces Sugar Ray Leonard, who has hosted the show alone since season two (Sylvester Stallone didn’t return after the first season). He told ESPN, “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.”

ESPN has the names of all of the 16 new boxers, and talked to executive producer Jeff Wald, who said, “I was in the interviews with all 16 of the guys and I think this is our best season yet personality-wise. I think the viewers are really going to be taken with these guys.”

“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. 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. One fight in particular, I had three different people down there call me and tell me it was as exciting as Sakio Bika-Jaidon Codrington,” Wald said.

‘The Contender’ to feature two ex-title challengers; TV star Danza to host [ESPN]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.