'El Boxeo' spotlights Latinos' role in revitalizing boxing.

AuthorDuckett, Richard

Byline: Richard Duckett

For a while it might have seemed as if boxing was going down for the count.

Once an all-white sport (Jack Dempsey), then dominated by African-American superstars (Muhammad Ali) complemented by Great White Hopes (Henry Cooper), it was a world where big bouts were widely anticipated events and the struggles of lesser boxers the compelling stuff of fiction and movies ("I could've been a contender''). But then TV networks no longer had fight nights, and certain traditional demographic bases left the ringside to watch wrestling, or mixed martial arts, or perhaps the NFL.

"Eight ... Nine ... ''

Not so fast.

"Boxing is really bigger than ever,'' said film writer, director and producer Alan Swyer, whose documentary "El Boxeo'' will be screened at 1 p.m. March 28 at Clark University as part of the Latino Film Festival.

Swyer tells the story of the emergence and dominance of Latinos in the sport, which has been a pick-me-up for all boxing fans.

Although neither Floyd Mayweather Jr. nor Manny Pacquiao are Latinos, their upcoming fight May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas is likely to become the biggest money-making boxing event of all time, Swyer said.

As Latino fighters exploded onto the scene, the Latino fan base became a dream-come-true for fight promoters. "The audience has changed. Younger white males drifted to MMA (mixed martial arts), but they're not the most significant demographic. In fact, they're an insignificant demographic.''

These days there's a worldwide demographic. Pacquiao is from the Philippines. "When he fights, the entire country comes to a stop,'' Swyer said. When there's a big fight on somewhere in the world, casinos in Macau, China, triple their revenue, he noted. Stateside, boxing is returning to the TV networks after a long absence.

Hispanic boxers from Latin America, the Caribbean and the U.S. became a sort of new heartbeat for boxing, with fighters such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad becoming international stars with great followings.

"The Latino fighters are spectacular,'' Swyer said. He interviewed a lot of them for "El Boxeo,'' as well as other fighters, fight promoters, trainers and commentators (Oscar De La Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bob Arum, Larry Merchant -- more than 80 interviews in all).

Judges have "Ex Boxeo'' running away on points of praise as the film had made its way around the film festival circuit. The World...

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