“If you can catch dat little speedball, you can catch Creed easy.”
Another film joined the ranks of recent boxing movies like Creed and Southpaw this weekend. “Hands of Stone”, the real-life story of Panamanian champion Roberto Durán opened to mixed reviews in US theatres. Robert De Niro’s performance as trainer Ray Arcel is one of his best in recent years, and star Édgar Ramírez gives a fantastic performance as the legendary fighter who won the world title in four different weight classes.
If you aren’t a die-hard Rocky fan, you may not know that two years before capturing the welterweight title from Sugar Ray Leonard, “Manos de Piedra” (“Hands of Stone”) Roberto Durán stepped into the boxing ring with Rocky Balboa.
In an effort to improve Rocky’s sluggish speed for his rematch with Apollo Creed, Mickey Goldmill brings in a spitfire of a sparring partner to challenge his uninspired fighter. You’ll remember that at this point in the movie, Rocky is out of sorts after Adrian expresses her dismay at the rematch with Creed, and having lost his heart, Rocky barely participates with the quick-moving target in the ring.
Filmed in 1978 at Main Street Gym
Filmed during the last months of 1978 at Los Angeles’ Main Street Gym (the real-life interior of Mick’s), this scene pits Durán against fictional heavyweight contender Balboa in a very one sided sparring session. Stallone and Durán clowned around for a few photographs in the gym with Costa Rican heavyweight champion Gilbert Acuña who also visited the set.
Back in 2014, Sylvester Stallone revealed that he was physically hurt and humbled when brawling with Duran for the film. After playing Rocky on the big screen, and spending some serious time training in the sport himself, Sly felt sure enough of his skills that he assumed he’d come out on top in a simple off-camera sparring session with Durán despite his reputation as being unbeatable.
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“You’re sparring and you say to yourself, ‘Hey, maybe I can go with this guy.’ Then you trade a few shots, and you realize you’re an actor again,” he recalled years later, adding that he was pummeled by those famous Hands of Stone.
“Professionals and [acting] are two different things,” Sly was forced to admit. “I kind of interpreted it [in the movies]. They’re the real deal.”
— Irichelle Duran (@IrichelleDuran) November 5, 2014