Bosses of Sylvester Stallone's upcoming boxing reality series are furious after learning champion fighter Oscar De La Hoya plans to make a near-identical show to rival theirs.

Earlier this year (04), ROCKY star Stallone announced plans to film THE CONTENDER, which will search for the next great fighter, featuring former boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and airing on TV network NBC.

Now de la Hoya will be pushing forward with his own show, tentatively titled THE GREAT NEXT CHAMP, for rival network Fox.

And ENDEMOL USA's DAVID GOLDBERG proudly declares De la Hoya's series will have one main difference from Stallone's: "The winner of this show will actually fight for an existing title."

The winner will also get a "substantial" cash prize, as well as a contract with De la Hoya's GOLDEN BOY PROMOTIONS.

Fox's MIKE DARNELL adds, "Ours is the only boxing show where we have a real-life boxer, one who's working right now, rather than someone who portrayed a boxer."

De la Hoya's series will hit American TV screens in the autumn (04), and while Stallone's show was expected to debut in January (05), is it now expected to brought forward.

The Contender's executive-producer MARK BURNETT is especially infuriated because his show was pitched to Fox - and three other networks - before it announced plans to have a similar series.

He rants, "Fox lost out on (The Contender) fair and square, and it's hard to believe they'd do something substantially similar."

20/04/2004 02:23