In real life they fought twice, in 1994 and 1995. In reel-life, both Roberto Duran and Vinny Pazienza will go head-to-head later this year as both greats get the biopic treatment on the silver screen. Duran’s movie, “Hands of Stone,” hits cinemas first, at the tail end of August, while Pazienza’s movie, “Bleed For This,” comes out in early November. Both films promise to be, at the very least, watchable affairs.
Duran’s movie will feature a true Hollywood giant in Robert De Niro in the role of Duran’s trainer Ray Arcel, while Paz’s movie is produced by cinematic giant Martin Scorsese. Which film will win the box office war? Duran’s life story is simply incredible, in and out of the ring, while Pazienza’s life may have seen even more astonishment. The horrific car crash Pazienza suffered in late 1991, in which his neck was broken, would have finished off any other fighter, but Paz refused to let the doctor’s tell him he would never walk again, let alone fight again – coming back to launch an odds defying comeback a year later.
This act of incredible bravery is sure to feature heavily in “Bleed For This,” but Pazienza fought some truly exciting, unforgettable ring bouts also. As with Duran – who he twice out-pointed as a super-middleweight, when Roberto was edging, ever so slowly towards retirement; ironically, this retirement coming only after a 50-year-old Duran suffered a car smash of his own – Pazienza fought in a number of weight classes, often upsetting the odds as he did so.
Duran had around twice as many pro fights than Pazienza, but both men gave their all in the ring. Miles Teller, who plays Pazienza, and Edgar Ramirez, who plays Duran, have some pretty big shoes to fill in their respective portrayals, that’s for sure. It is to be hoped that both movies are worthy of joining the great boxing films that have so inspired people to become, if not fighters themselves, then fight fans.
Duran retired in 2001 with an incredible 103-16(70) record. The Panamanian living legend of course won world titles at lightweight, welterweight, light-middleweight and middleweight. Pazienza walked away (something the doctors said he’d never do) in 2004 with a 50-10(30) ledger – 24 of these fights coming AFTER the car crash! Paz won world titles at lightweight and super-lightweight.
If ever a pair of boxing greats were worthy of the glitzy Hollywood treatment, it is these two.