Fighters take star turn on boxing reality TV show

Middleweights Mark Anthony Hernandez, John Jackson and Malcolm McAllister hope to follow in the footsteps of The Contender season one winner and former world champion Sergio Mora in finding fame and fortune.

Mark Anthony Hernandez battled to a draw with hard-punching Jeison Rosario in February, ending “The Madman’s” two-fight winning streak. But observers of Hernandez’s performances may not have gained a true appreciation of what inspires the Fresno, California, native.

“What motivates me during the rough times are my wife, Maria, and our 3-year-old son, Max, who has been diagnosed with autism,” said the 25-year-old Hernandez who has also overcome a childhood incident which left him with burns over 30 percent of his body. “So when I go away to training camp, it’s important to have an understanding wife who sacrifices, picks up the slack and helps me to balance being a husband and father with being a fighter.”

The 6-foot Hernandez (11-1-1, 3 KOs) could become a household name after being selected among 16 professional fighters competing at 160 pounds on The Contender series.

Hernandez is competing for a $250,000 purse. Eight boxers are on a gold team guided by trainer Naazim Richardson, and eight are on a blue team overseen by cornerman Freddie Roach.

“I feel ... with [this level] of exposure, the future is bright for me as a fighter and for us as a family. If my career ended today, I would feel grateful and very blessed,” Hernandez said.

“I’ve already had some of my 13 fights televised on the stages that have been provided to me by the PBC and Al Haymon, and, now, this show will allow people to see me as I really am, a quiet guy who fights hard for his family.”

Also featured on the show alongside Hernandez are PBC fighters John “Dah Rock” Jackson (21-3, 16 KOs) of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and, Malcolm McAllister (9-1, 8 KOs) of Long Beach, California. The Contender will span a course of 12 episodes and 15 fights with the men living and training together.

Coming off a 160-pound first-round TKO of Lucio Galindo in July 2017, the 28-year-old Jackson’s father and trainer is Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, a former two-division world champion who was renowned for his knockout power.

John Jackson has had brushes with the upper echelon of boxing, including Andy Lee and Jermell Charlo.

Jackson had Lee on his backside in the opening round and was dominating the fight before getting caught and stopped, and led his 154-pound title fight vs Charlo on all three scorecards in May 2016 before being stopped in the eighth round.

Meanwhile, the 27-year-old McAllister is looking to rebound from his fight in October, a unanimous decision loss to Chordale Booker in a clash of unbeatens.

Before facing Booker, McAllister rose from a final-round knockdown—the first in his career—in March 2017 to win a six-round unanimous decision over Alejandro Torres.

Contender host and former two-division champion Andre Ward is joined by former junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Mora (29-5-2, 9 KOs), who came to national prominence in 2005 after winnning Season 1 of the show.

“My experience was unlike nothing ever before. Win or lose, every fighter on the show gets a glimpse of the spotlight and what it feels like to be in the limelight and begin to be recognized by strangers,” Mora said.

“This show will make you a household name around the world. Only the Contender could get grandmothers to watch a kid like me from East L.A., which is the beauty of it.”

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