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Saturday 14 December 2019

Spike just box office

Film about Gary's career is a knockout

15 September 2018; David Lemieux knocks Spike O'Sullivan to the canvas during their middlewieght bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Photo by Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions via Sportsfile
15 September 2018; David Lemieux knocks Spike O'Sullivan to the canvas during their middlewieght bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Photo by Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions via Sportsfile

The moment David Lemieux's explosive left fist connects with Gary O'Sullivan's jaw is captured in all its destructive glory in Terry McMahon's new film The Prizefighter.

Even more memorable is the sight of O'Sullivan on his hands and knees, dazed and confused, pushing himself to beat the referee's count. Which he bravely did.

Glitzy

The fight in Las Vegas last year was just O'Sullivan's third defeat in 33 professional fights.

It could have brought McMahon's documentary to an abrupt end. Instead, it simply opens the next chapter in the sporting life of a remarkable fighter and personality.

The filmmaker follows O'Sullivan from his training camp at the Celtic Warrior Gym in Corduff to the MGM Grand and the glitzy heart of Las Vegas.

We see how Spike caught the eye of ring-legend Oscar De La Hoya.

The Golden Boy promoter believed the charismatic Irishman's all-action fighting style and flamboyant appearance could "ignite the imagination of the most passionate fight fans in America, the Mexicans." He offered Spike a three-fight deal.

Win two and the Cork man would get a multi-million dollar shot at Gennady Golovkin, with the unified world championship as the prize.

We see O'Sullivan make short work of Puerto Rico fighter Berlin Abreu (14-1, 11 KOs) and the build-up to the Lemieux fight on the undercard of the Canelo v Golovkin fight in September last year.

McMahon's film is set for the film-festival circuit with screenings already confirmed for Melbourne and New York.

Virgin Media will televise it in the new year.

Truth

The truth of the expression that pro boxing is "show business with blood" can be seen in The Prizefighter, as the cameras catch the glamour, the buzz and the brutality and rare moments of celebration and desolation.

Observing O'Sullivan confirmed everything McMahon felt about boxing.

"To step into the ring at any level takes serious courage," he says. "But to step in at that level, in front of the eyes of the world, knowing that your whole life and your family's life might be about to change forever is astonishing."

He captures Spike reflecting on a defeat that wrecked his dream of becoming unified champion of the world.

"Even getting knocked out, this too will pass," says Spike stoically. "It always does."

The film ends with a KO win for O'Sullivan at junior middleweight and what coach Packy Collins describes as his "rebuild to become a future world champion."

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