March 22, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. George Foreman has taken sides in the latest Rumble in the TV Jungle: he’s going to be in Sylvester Stallone’s corner in the upcoming battle royal among boxing reality shows. The ex-champ had been planning his own boxing reality competition series, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, he’s signing on instead with ”The Contender,” where he’ll spar alongside such heavyweights as Stallone (who’s hosting), Mark Burnett (producer of ”Survivor” and ”The Apprentice”), Jeffrey Katzenberg (cofounder of DreamWorks), and fellow boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, who will help train the show’s unknown fighters.

”Contender,” which already has a January airdate and a commitment from NBC for a whopping $2 million per episode (it’ll be the most expensive reality series to date), has taken the first couple of rounds in the melee among boxing reality shows. With Foreman’s own show KO’d, the last serious competitor is ”The Real Rocky,” from the producers of Stallone’s ”Rocky” franchise, which would pit a Rocky Balboa-like unknown against a recognized champ. Other boxing shows reportedly being floated by fight promoter Don King and fighter Oscar De La Hoya have yet to materialize.

Speaking about Foreman’s proposed role on ”Contender,” Stallone told the Reporter: ”George will appear before these young fighters and be an inspirational mentor and answer questions about their innermost fears and secrets and dreams of what it’s like to aspire to be a champion. We went to him because we felt that there are only a handful of fighters that have transferred their life from one arena to another. He’s crossed the line from being a fighter to being an icon. He epitomizes how one can rise out of the ashes and rebuild himself.” In other words, while Foreman offers them friendly advice, it’ll be someone else’s job to grill them.

You May Like