For their reward for their boxer winning the last fight, the blue team gets to meet Will McGinnis and gets expensive watches. Since the blue team has the right to pick the fight, Micheal Stewart from the blue team chooses to fight Ebo Elder. Micheal Stewart had a difficult time growing up and says he spent time in eight state run facilities. Ebo Elder is married with two daughters. Ebo’s wife wishes he was fighting someone else, because her and Micheal’s wife Lisa have become good friends.
For their reward for their fighter winning the last match, the gold teams wins Polaroid digital cameras. As a bonus prize, Gary Balletto gets a framed picture of the fight. For a workout, the boxers throw tires in the back of a moving truck. Since the gold team has the right to pick the fight, Walter Wright from the gold team chooses to fight Andre Eason from the blue team.
After winning his fight, Noberto Bravo gets to choose where he wants to fight in the second round. Noberto picks the last spot in the second round so that he will have time to recuperate. Because the boxer on the blue team won, the blue team gets to decide who fights next from both teams. The blue team selects Gary Balletto from the gold team and Aaron Torres from their own team for the next fight.
Sugar Ray Leonard welcomes the sixteen boxers to The Contender 2. Sergio Mora, who won the first Contender, advises the boxers to take this opportunity seriously. The boxers watch each other train. Sugar Ray Leonard asks for two volunteers. Nick Acevedo and Michael Clark step forward, and Sugar Ray Leonard asks them to pick teams. Cornelius “K9″ Bundrage is the last boxer picked.
It’s no secret that reality television often contrasts dramatically from reality. On reality TV in “The Contender,” Jimmy Lange went five rounds with Joey Gilbert in front of a studio audience, lost a unanimous decision, and was then invited back several episodes later for a $200,000 payday in a victory over Tarik Salmaci. But in reality during the “Clash of the Contenders” rematch in Fairfax, Va., Lange was pummeled in front of 6,000 hometown fans until the ref stopped the fight at the tail end of the 3rd round. This time, there was no nationally broadcasted redemption match or six-figure consolation prize waiting for Lange in the wings. Hence the expression, at least from Lange’s perspective, “Reality Bites.”
Reality television has come a full circle. First “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone introduced “The Contender,” a reality TV series that would recreate a professional boxing match. Now in Virginia, two of the show’s star fighters have announced a professional boxing match that will recreate reality TV.
The Contender rematches proved to be more controversial than the original Contender fights and led to an angry crowd booing controversial decisions by the judges. The first time Jesse Brinkley and Anthony Bonsante met in the ring ended in Brinkley landing a killer upper cut and winning by a knockout. At one time the two fighters were friends, but they entered the ring for the rematch not even on speaking terms.
Rematches are starting to become a tradition in reality TV. First, Kelly Monaco and John O’Hurley had a Dance-Off on Dancing with the Stars, and now Sergio Mora and Peter Manfredo, Jr. are set to face each other in the boxing ring in a rematch of The Contender Finale. Sergio Mora won the first fight in a unanimous decision, so there was not much question over his title. Sergio took home the title of The Contender, a new truck, and a million dollars for his victory.
Mark Burnett Productions, DreamWorks, and ESPN are casting season two of the critically acclaimed series The Contender. The tryouts are open to professional male boxers in all weight classes. The second season will feature 16 new boxers and their dreams, desires, struggles, and sacrifices to become the next Contender.
In a climatic and action-packed finale, the stakes are high as the final two contestants will go toe-to-toe in a seven round live fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas – the mecca of boxing. 16 men started the tournament but only one will receive one million dollars and the title of Contender champion. The Contender Finale airs on NBC at 8P.M. ET time on Tuesday, May 24, 2005.