For Mexican and Mexican American communities, boxing is more than a sport. From ring walk-ins to trunks, opponents take full advantage of the theatrical spectacle, narrating their histories and the stories of their individual fanbases. In 1996, Oscar De La Hoya, the charismatic golden boy from East LA, challenged Mexican-born boxing legend Julio César Chávez in what was billed as the “ultimate glory” fight. Mexicans on both sides of the border were forced to choose their favorite champ: the record-holding immigrant from humble beginnings, or the younger and more marketable Olympian born in the U.S. These rivals felt the pressure to prove their athletic superiority, while the fans’ choice of champion revealed the type of Mexican they aspired to be.
Director Eva Longoria Bastón’s high-energy documentary debut exudes authenticity and heart as it digs deep into the cultural significance of one of the biggest sports moments of the 1990s. Much like in the African-American community, a lot of focus was placed on Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Being from St. Louis, we put our mouth and money behind the Michael and Leon Spinks, so I wholeheartedly understand the pride associated with Mexicans in regards to De La Hoya and Chávez. I really appreciated that Longoria Baston made it a point to include POV of a well respected woman in the spots reporter space – Claudia Trejos.
The public ugliness surrounding and following that historic fight are best described from the subjects themselves within the doc. However, it was great to see both men interviewed at length, appearing to have recovered from any ill will and making peace with their respective vices (ie alcohol and cocaine). Maybe there’s a buddy film lurking around the bend, featuring a jaded boxer near retirement and his movie star looks partner who insists he’s still got the right stuff.