Q&A with Tony Danza, the host of Season 4 of 'The Contender'
After three seasons and two networks,
In the past, we've seen boxing legends, such as
Danza took some time away from the gym and the cameras to speak with SI.com about his new gig, which premieres Dec. 3 at 10 p.m. ET and will air every Wednesday before its live two-hour finale on Feb. 25.
I was 10-3 before I went to do
This was just a chance to rekindle that love. And it was so natural, though I didn't expect it to be. One of the great things about boxing is the camaraderie at the gym, and you think about [
I replaced Sugar Ray, and Ray is arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time -- a six-time world champion -- and also a great guy. But a lot of the guys, when you walk in and see Sugar Ray, it's like, holy crap. What do you say to him? Whereas with me, I am a club fighter so I can identify with them, and I think they identified with me a little more. I tried to get them to open up about what it is that makes people want to do this. I know why I wanted to do it. We had guys that are working two jobs to support their boxing career. I had a job to support my boxing career. And for the non-boxing fans, I think that is an interesting thing that we really haven't seen on TV, guys at this level explaining why they do it. What it feels like to win, what it feels like to lose, and what it feels like to climb up those four steps in your underwear, climb through the ropes and put yourself on the line like that. It's really crazy, and yet so beautiful.
I don't think there was anything that was really hard about hosting though. I enjoyed being there. There were a lot of good fights, a couple of guys get knockouts, which add to the excitement. But I'm a gym rat anyway, so I was able to hang out in the gym and train, talk boxing, eat and live boxing. You know how those guys go to those fantasy camps for baseball? How those old guys go and play baseball with the Mets or the Yankees in Florida or something? That's what it was like. It was like I went to a fantasy camp, and it was really a lot of fun in that respect.
I think one of these days, boxing is going to have to come to terms with the fact that they have had a lot of short-term thinking and it's hurt the sport. When I was a kid, you'd see
But the reason you do it, for most people, is because you think there's a chance you could be the best at it, that you could win the championship of the world. That's why I did it. I know guys that do it for a job because they love it so much and then they become journeymen. But for the most part, guys just want to be champs.
It's a good thing for boxing, that's for sure.