He was only a fighter in the ring
December 16, 2013 7:24 AM   Subscribe

"Assault In The Ring" (originally called "Cornered: A Life in the Ring") is a film about a boxing match that took place between undefeated prospect Billy Collins Jr and Luis Resto. What began as a match turned into a life altering moment for both participants - Collins' career dreams ended and Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis landed in prison for their illegal actions. The subsequent investigation and trial have led many to declare this bout the darkest day in boxing history. But the film-maker doesn't stop there. He tracked down the surviving principals and arranged meetings among some of them, trying to see if the documentary can be an occasion for reconciliation or justice. Watch the film in its entirety on Youtube here.
posted by Potomac Avenue (8 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Good Sports Illustrated article on that night here.
posted by TedW at 8:29 AM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Even if you're not now or never were a fan of boxing, this film really is something. Highly recommended. It's not just about boxing. It's a human — all too human — tragedy that makes you both angry at and feel sorry for the men who should have known better.

I hadn't realized that Resto and Lewis both tried to get their licenses reinstated. Resto is a bit a of a sad-sack, so it's somewhat easier to have sympathy for him. Still, as that Randy Gordon article points out, if that paves the way for Lewis to get a license then it's too bad for Resto.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2013

Personally, I find boxing (and fighting in general) an abhorrent sport and form of entertainment.

If Collins' injuries during the fight were so out-of-the-ordinary (as the Bleacher Report piece says), I find myself wondering what purpose the so-called "official" in the ring serves? If Collins was literally being torn apart, it would seem that any referee worthy of the title should have stopped the fight.

That he didn't only reinforces my extremely low opinion of the "sport" and the industry surrounding it.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:44 AM on December 16, 2013

This is a tragic story all over. Great collection of links, PA.

The sheer variety of methods for cheating is terrifying, as I type this before I head off to (casual) kickboxing class. Plaster of paris, an 18-second horsehair removal trick, asthma medications in water. Yow. I don't want none of that near me.

Thorzdad, I'm no expert in officiating policies, but I think the official is limited to stopping the fight in cases where one fighter is not defending himself or has been knocked down. I haven't watched this fight, but I'm curious as to whether the eye swelling was severe enough during the fight to bring in a ring doctor to verify Collins' vision.
posted by daveliepmann at 8:58 AM on December 16, 2013

Argh — that YT version of the documentary is in the wrong aspect ratio. I can't watch it that way. (But I can download it and set my player to play it at the correct aspect ratio, I guess.)

Obviously, I haven't watched the documentary, but I watched portions of the fight and then focused on the ending. It's weird how the announcers were so oblivious to what was happening in the ring after fight ended — in the ESPN broadcast, you can see Collins, Sr. hold onto Resto's glove, feeling it, and not letting Resto walk away. You can even hear him call over the commissioner. Then the commissioner comes over, and there's more obvious official stuff happening that the announcers seem entirely unaware of even though it's right there on the screen. Weird.

I'm not sure that Collins's injuries were that unusual. But when I was watching portions of the fight, I was wondering myself whether any of the people there with lifetimes of experience would notice that Resto's punches were doing more damage than they ought relative to how powerful the punches seemed to be. But apparently not, and I suspect it's because there's really many factors involved in how much damage punches do.

If you think about it, the padding in boxing gloves is intentionally right at the threshold between not helping very much and rendering punches ineffectual. It's right at that balance, and what Lewis did put it on the more harmful side of the balance, but a given fighter on a given day might fight well enough and punch hard enough, and his opponent might take those punches badly enough, that the same result comes from normal equipment. So it didn't seem unusual to anyone at the time, not in itself, because boxers do, in fact, incur that much damage sometimes.

However, what with Resto really just being one of those pro boxers who fight mainly as opponents for up-and-coming boxers (that's what "journeyman" means in this context), that he so dominated Collins should have, and did, surprise everyone, and coupled with how much damage Collins took, was a red flag. Still, though, these things happen. Journeymen boxers upset young fighters like Collins and an underdog can really beat up on a better fighter when that better fighter is just having a bad day.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:24 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

If Collins was literally being torn apart, it would seem that any referee worthy of the title should have stopped the fight.

Sadly, some referees are terrible. Good referees will notice when a fighter is having trouble seeing out of an eye and check it out.

There is no doubt that boxing has many horrible problems, but it's the rules and organization or lack thereof, rather than the sport's central concept, that causes these. It is wonderful in its amateur incarnation, albeit far less marketable.
posted by ignignokt at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2013

The Collins estate argued that the inspectors had an obligation not only to glance at the gloves but also to feel them on Resto's hands, to look inside them—to do everything to ensure they had not been tampered with. The commission countered that inspecting is a very broad term that means many things. Did the inspectors have to do anything beyond what they did? It was not clear.
Heckuva job, Brownie.

Collins' father doesn't come out of that Sports Illustrated story sounding too great, either.
posted by daveliepmann at 9:30 AM on December 16, 2013

If Collins was literally being torn apart, it would seem that any referee worthy of the title should have stopped the fight.

Who Killed (a different) Davey Moore?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

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