Look for ”In this corner…” to replace ”You’re fired” as the next ubiquitous reality-show catchphrase. According to Variety, at least three boxing reality shows are duking it out for future airtime. Two big-name shows already announced are a yet-untitled show from George Foreman, who would grill amateur fighters as they live and spar together under one roof, and ”The Contender,” from Sylvester Stallone and producer Mark Burnett (”The Apprentice,” ”Survivor.”) Stallone will host, Sugar Ray Leonard will train, unknowns will fight each other, and NBC will cough up $2 million per episode for what will be the most expensive reality show to date.
Now, there’s a third contender, called ”The Real Rocky,” from Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, who control the name rights to the film franchise that made Stallone famous. As in the original movie, they’ll find an unknown and train him to fight a famous pro. The show’s producers insist they came up with the idea first; MGM TV president Hank Cohen says his company has been working with Winkler and Chartoff on the show for nearly a year. ”We registered this idea with the Writers Guild last May,” he tells Variety. ”We’ve been very meticulous about developing this, perhaps even moving too slowly.” Describing the show, he said, ”We want this to be as close to a reality version of the first ‘Rocky’ as we can. We want to find underdogs and give them their one-in-a-million shot.”
Industry insiders tell Variety that fight promoter Don King and former champ Oscar De La Hoya are also mulling boxing shows. Maybe the competing producers should settle this in the ring themselves. That’s a reality show we’d definitely watch.