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Tempers flare in 'The Fighters' premiere

Posted by Matthew Juul  January 23, 2014 08:29 PM

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(The Fighters/Discovery Channel)

From the opening bell, tempers were flaring on Discovery Channel's new boxing reality television show,"The Fighters."

Set in South Boston, the eight-part series debuted with flying fists on Thursday night, showcasing some of the areas promising up and coming boxers.

In an interview with Boston.com, executive producer and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White promised that the series would display the heart and grit of fighters trying to make a name in Boston's boxing scene.

"I think that this is a character-driven show in a cool city," said White, a former Southie resident.

Co-produced by "The Ultimate Fighter" co-creator Craig Paligian, "The Fighters" was influenced by the mixed martial arts reality series, in both style and it's ability to clearly present the every day life of fighters.

Within the first few minutes of "The Fighters," fists were flying between the coaches -- all of the Boston area -- because of their inability to decide on the show's first match-up.

Matt Phinney, of Peter Welch's Gym, was chosen to face Anthony McKenna, of Tomasello Boxing Gym. While their fight was quite compelling, it was each fighters' struggles outside the ring that really tugged at the heart strings.

McKenna, a native of Brighton, is a refromed drug addict and alcoholic, trying one more time to make it big in the world of boxing. Opposing him is Phinney, a struggling pugilist living out of his car who's also seeking to make a name for himself within the fight game.

The two up-and-coming fighters squared off in the final act of the premiere episode in what would be an evenly matched fight.

Phinney went on to knock down McKenna in the opening round, using a head body combination to his advantage. The Peter Welch trained fighter worked the pace to take both the first and second round.

Not to be counted out, McKenna fought back hard in the final frame, landing a number of combinations on Phinney before the final bell rang. However, it would be too little too late as Phinney went on to take the decision in the first episode of "The Fighters."

Overall, the series' debut showcased a lot of Boston charm without falling into the stereotypical pitfalls that previous reality shows based in the area have fallen prey to.

The intesity of the training mixed in with the show's endearing characters makes "The Fighters" a reality show worthy of calling Boston it's home.

Did you watch? What did you think of the show? Will you keep watching?

Check out some fan reactions on Twitter.

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Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

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Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.

Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

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