ESPN, Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks Television announced today that the second season of the critically acclaimed series “The Contender” is set to begin airing on ESPN April 2006.

“The Contender” is an unscripted drama about the lives, fears and hopes of 16 professional boxers as they compete for the chance to change their lives and the lives of the people they love forever. “The Contender” will air under the ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE) banner and be executive produced by Mark Burnett, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sylvester Stallone. Plans call for casting and production to begin immediately and for the series to air beginning April 2006 in primetime on ESPN.

“'The Contender' has all of the elements that make it the right fit for ESPN: compelling storylines, dynamic characters and suspense over the outcome,” said Mark Shapiro, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production. “This series speaks to our viewers’ love for competition and their appreciation for triumph over adversity, and it goes without saying that the track record of Mark Burnett is exemplary – a perfect match for the critical and ratings successes EOE has delivered in both scripted and unscripted drama.“

Mark Burnett said, “Our vision from the onset was to improve the entertainment experience of televised boxing for the fans. What better platform to achieve that vision than on the network that pioneered sports television programming.”

After being introduced to all the contestants in the first episode, each subsequent show will see one or more boxing hopefuls eliminated via in-the-ring competition against each other. Viewers will see contestants training in the ring, living together in one house, and witness their personal interactions, while learning the often heart wrenching details of the lives these men lead and what led them to pursue their dream.

ESPN has options to renew the series for two subsequent seasons, and the network is partnered with Burnett and Katzenberg in utilizing the series across all media platforms on a worldwide basis.