Michael Slezak
August 11, 2006 AT 02:00 PM EDT

Let’s get ready to rrrrrruummmmbllllle! In the red corner, wearing the black trunks, is alleged show-killer Eric Balfour. Yes, folks, this little ruffian’s last four bouts as a regular series player have resulted in quick TKOs against such heavyweights as Dick Wolf (Conviction), Denise Richards (Sex, Love & Secrets), and the entire state of Hawaii (Hawaii). One show, The WB’s Fearless, got pulled before its first episode hit the airwaves. (Talk about hitting below the belt.) Still, he certainly held his own as a recurring player on Six Feet Under (as Claire’s sketchy boyfriend), and now according to TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello, he’s coming back to take on 24 (he went eight rounds with the show back during its first season).

In the blue corner, wearing the blood-red shorts, is Fox’s aforementioned, Emmy-nominated 24, a series which hasn’t pulled a punch in its five-season run. And to ensure it survives, even thrives, its second bout with Balfour, Ausiello says the show is bringing back Chloe’s main squeeze, Carlo Rota, and adding Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Alexander Siddig, to its permanent corner. Well, as permanent as you can get on 24 anyway.

So PopWatchers, who are you putting your money on when these gladiators take to the ring come January? I’m taking 24 by decision.

addCredit(“Eric Balfour: Michael Buckner/Getty Images”)

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