'Contender' Steps Back in Ring

ESPN is extending its boxing franchise "The Contender," ordering up a third season of the Mark Burnett-produced show for a September premiere.

The show, which features 16 fighters vying for the Contender championship and a share of a seven-figure purse, will debut at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday, Sept. 4. Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard will be back as host and mentor.

"'The Contender' has found a terrific home on ESPN, and we're proud of the fact that we are able to give a new group of boxers the chance for world-wide exposure," says Burnett, who executive produces the show with Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The third season of the show will feature a new weight class, super middleweight, new trainers in James "Buddy" McGirt and Jose "Pepe" Correa and a total purse of $1 million, up 50 percent from last season. Comedian and one-time trainer Adam Carolla and multi-time world champ Oscar De La Hoya -- who was involved with FOX's "Contender" rival "The Next Great Champ" a couple years back -- will make guest appearances.

Additionally, viewers will be able to see unedited versions of each week's bout on ESPN2.

The season-two finale of "The Contender," which featured Grady Brewer and Steve Forbes, drew 2.3 million viewers and was ESPN's top-rated boxing broadcast in nine years.