You may have already seen the HBO documentary "Assault In The Ring," but if you haven't yet, put it on your to-do list. Just in case you've forgotten that boxing is filled, top to bottom, with unbelievable scumbags.
The movie tells the story of the Luis Resto-Billy Collins Jr. fight from 1983, when the journeyman Resto pummeled the undefeated Collins beyond recognition. Immediately after the fight, it was discovered that most of the padding had been taken out of Resto gloves. He and his trainer, Panama Lewis, spent two-and-a-half years in jail each, and were both banned from the sport for life. Less than a year after the fight, his career ruined and his life in shambles, Collins drove his car off a road and died.
The documentary focuses mainly on Resto, who got out of jail and then saw his life getting even worse. He never got his fighting license back and couldn't even get certified as a cornerman. His wife left him, his kids grew up without him, and he struggled along the bottom layer of the boxing game ever since. Throughout the course of the film, Resto—who had always denied any involvement with the glove tampering—comes to terms with his own role in the fateful fight, as he desperately reaches out for any lifeline that will pull his life back together.
In this early scene, he meets Panama for the first time since getting out of jail over 20 years earlier and confronts him about the gloves. Lewis also continues to deny any wrongdoing and promises that as soon as he gets back on his feet, he will help Resto out. In case, you hadn't noticed Lewis is covered in gold. Every finger on both hands, both his wrists and neck are swimming in jewelry. He's been back on his feet for a long time. Even though Lewis was banned as a cornerman he still makes money training top end fighters, while Resto spent ten years living in the basement of a gym.
Watching Lewis and Resto move through the shady underbelly of boxing, the whole movie is just a stunning reminder that boxing is run by some of the most corrupt and selfish people that walk the Earth. A boxing match between two well-matched contenders is a sight to behold, but it's hard to show any support for pugilism when you stop to think about what everyone involved had to do to get there. Or where they will end up, once they've outlived their usefulness. Rightly or wrongly, Lewis comes off as the consummate con-artist a man who casually threw away Collins' and then Resto's, lives in search of a big payday. The film is not entirely objective, but you don't have to know much about boxing to know that Lewis is not alone.
HBO: ASSAULT IN THE RING [Re-air schedule @ HBO.com]