Gael Garcia Bernal to Play Boxer Roberto Duran in HANDS OF STONE; Al Pacino in Talks to Play Trainer

     November 22, 2010


Gael Garcia Bernal (Letters to Juliet) will headline the Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone.  Al Pacino is said to be circling the role of Ray Arcel, Duran’s trainer.

Duran boxed from age 16 (1968) to 50 (2002) under the nickname “Manos de piedra” (“Hands of Stone”), and won world titles at four different weights.  He is perhaps best known for the “No Más Fight,” the November 1980 rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard for the welterweight championship.  As the eighth round closed, Duran forfeited, telling the referee “No más” (“No more”).  Said writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz, “The infamous ‘No Más’ fight is the biggest enigma in the history of boxing. This movie will answer that enigma.”  More after the jump.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the controversy surrounding the fight:

“Duran claimed that he quit because of stomach cramps, which started to bother him in the fifth round. Duran said the cramps occurred because he took off weight too quickly and then ate too much after the morning weigh-in, but his manager, Carlos Eleta, said Duran always ate that way before a fight. ‘Duran didn’t quit because of stomach cramps,’ Eleta said. ‘He quit because he was embarrassed.’

Duran’s stature in his home country, Panama, took a dramatic dive after the second Leonard fight. The first reaction was shock, followed by anger. Within hours after the fight, Duran’s commercials (in both Panama and the United States) were ordered off the air.”

Here’s a clip of the fight (Duran quits shortly after the 1:30 mark):

“I don’t understand it… I don’t understand it…”

Fascinating.  The man boxed professionally for five decades, which as far as I know is about the manliest thing ever accomplished.  And yet his reputation was nearly undone by a momentary sign of weakness.  I’ve checked in even before you factor in my Bernal love.  I’m curious to see what Jakubowicz has to back up his claim of definitive closure, or if it’s mere grandstanding befitting of the sport of subject.

According to Variety, the production will shoot mostly in English in Panama and New York next spring.

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