Still groggy after being knocked unconscious by the sheer boredom of Mayweather-Pacquiao? The smelling salts are almost here. Boxing as a sport has been reportedly dying for years, but its built-in drama and its close-framed action remain a potent combination at the box office.
In late July, Jake Gyllenhaal disrobes to show off his newly jacked physique in Southpaw, a fictional fight tale (very) loosely based on Eminem’s custody battle for his daughter. Also coming soon is Bleed for This, another method acting showcase for Whiplash (and soon-to-be Fantastic Four) star Miles Teller. Last fall Teller stood in the ring at Rhode Island’s Twin River Casino, recreating a real-life sequence in which four-time champ Vinny Pazienza furiously charged an opponent — Roger Mayweather — after taking a shot to the nose.
Between takes, Teller and contemporary middleweight Peter Quillin (playing Mayweather) rehearsed their moves for trainer Darrell Foster. A veteran stunt coordinator, Foster spent 18 years working with one of the all-time greats, Sugar Ray Leonard, and his work in Hollywood includes Will Smith’s portrayal of Ali.
Shortly after wrapping on the set of Bleed for This, Foster spoke at length with Men’s Journal about the keys to making boxing scenes credible in the movies, and some of his favorite examples of the genre. Among other things, we learned that it’s not safe to call him a fight “choreographer.”