Fox takes on NBC; launches boxing reality show

MUMBAI: While on Indian shores, reality is still all about glamour hunts, the sports reality genre is heating up on the American television, this summer.

Close on the heels of NBC announcing its boxing reality show - The Contender with Sly Stallone as the 'ring master', broadcaster Fox is all geared to launch its own boxing reality TV series in partnership with boxer Oscar De La Hoya.

Tentatively titled The Next Great Champ, the show will have a dozen aspiring prize fighters from across the US, battling it out on the ring for fame and fortune. With boxing champ Oscar De La Hoya as its host, the show based in New York will seek out young boxers and follow them as they train and fight each other.

The winner gets a possible shot at the title fight, a professional contract with De La Hoya's Golden Boy promotions and ofcourse, a large cash prize.

Produced by reality TV heavyweight Endemol in partnership with Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy promotions, the show will hold casting calls in cities across the country for fighters between 130 pounds (59.1 kg) and 170 pounds (77.3 kg) who are either amateurs or have fought in pro fights of four rounds or less, say media reports.

The reports suggest that both the CNN and Fox reality shows (still to be put into development) have similar concepts, hence both shows are likely compete with each other in terms of ratings. That is exactly where the behind-the-scenes battle heating up between the rival producers.

NBC's The Contender featuring Sylvester Stallone, Sugar Ray Leonard and George Forman is produced by Apprentice creator Mark Burnett and co-produced by Jeffery Katzenberg.

The reports suggest that a detailed pitch for The Contender was initially offered to De La Hoya a few months ago. De La Hoya reportedly turned down the offer, saying he is not keen on reality programming.

Announced in late February, The Contender was tentatively scheduled to debut in January 2005 but with The Next Great Champ readying for autumn (04) launch, it is now expected to brought forward. The 16 fighters in that series will compete for a $1 million prize.

As for The Next Great Champ, the producers have just indicated a "large cash prize" for the winner along with a possible title fight and a contract with Golden Boy. Reports indicate that each fighter will be accompanied on the series by their "cornerman," a person Fox said would be drawn from their personal lives.

While both the broadcaster are lacing up their gloves, lets hope the action packed reality drama can translate into a reality show on the local soils with focus on the 'akhadas' (local gyms). 

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