ESPN Cancels The Contender; HBO, Showtime Not Interested

First Season of Boxing Competition Ran on NBC

In boxing, a third knockdown in one round can often mean the end of a fight. And now, after getting floored by its second television network, The Contender is hoping to shake off the cobwebs for a third chance.

ESPN said in a report on its Web site that it canceled the boxing show, which has run on the cable sports network for the past two seasons. The first season ran on NBC before the broadcaster dropped the show.

Contender executive producer Jeff Wald said the producers (which include Mark Burnett) are in the “process of making another deal” and it could be closed in the next few days.

But a representative for HBO -- a logical outlet for the show given its long history and current prowess for boxing coverage -- told B&C the network is not interested.

Also on the doubtful list is Showtime, another storied and strong boxing network. Ken Hershman, Showtime’s senior vice president and general manager of sports and event programming, called a Contender acquisition “unlikely.”