There is nothing quite like a sports film that utilises the true story moniker to evoke passion, suspense, and disbelief at incredible feats achieved against presumed insurmountable odds. For the most part we’re guaranteed a satisfactory pay off, a happy ending, and the chance to witness history in motion. However, like the majority of “true stories” depicted in Hollywood, these amazing achievements are often, for one reason or another, embellished. So does Bleed for This stay true to it’s inspiration or does it go all out and fight without a gameplan?
In 1991 Vinny Pazienza was involved in a car accident that resulted in a broken neck which derailed his then resurgent boxing career after winning a title fight against Gilbert Dele, the same as in the film. The accident occurred in his friends Camaro as it does in the film, however in real life the accident came about due to another car cutting in front of the Camaro Vinny was a passenger in. After hitting the brakes, the Camaro with bald tires skidded into oncoming traffic, whereas in the film the accident occurred due to a car hitting them head on in their lane. The outcome was still tragic regardless of how it came about.
Weight Cutting Issues
In the film, Vinny winds up in hospital due to severe hydration following his loss to Roger Mayweather. This actually happened in real life, and appeared to be more dramatic as well. During the film, Miles Teller is in hospital following the fight, however he downplays the severity of the issue despite hospital staff telling him and his parents the seriousness of it. In real life Vinny credits his dad Angelo for bringing him back from the brink whilst in hospital, the dehydration was that bad.
Weight Class Changes
Following issues making weight for a few fights, including his loss to Roger Mayweather, Vinny Paz moved up weight classes like he did in the film. However in the film Vinny moves up after the Mayweather fight at the recommendation of trainer Kevin Rooney, whereas in real life Vinny fought a couple more times at Light Welterweight,before moving up to Light Middleweight. However it didn’t stop there, after coming back from his injury Vinny even moved up to Super Middleweight before eventually fighting Roberto Duran.
Roberto Duran Fight
To make his comeback seem all the more dramatic in the film, the first fight Vinny Paz has back in the ring following his injury is with the legendary Roberto Duran. It is true that Vinny Paz fought and beat Duran (he ended up fighting and beating him twice) but he was not his first opponent on returning to the fight game. Vinny’s first fight back was actually against Luis Santana, who was one of six opponents Vinny tore through on his way to fighting Roberto Duran.
It was true that Vinny Paz lost to Roger Mayweather and missed out on winning the WBC Light Welterweight Title. However his first fight following that loss was not the title fight with Gilbert Dele as it was in the film. In fact Vinny would fight not once, not twice, but seven more times after his loss to Mayweather before going head to head with Gilbert Dele. Of those seven fights, he won five and lost two, and three of those bouts were actually title fights. He fought for the WBO World Light Welterweight Title, the WBA World Light Middleweight Title, and the IBF USBA Light Middleweight Title, losing the first two and winning the latter.
Also following his return from injury, Vinny Paz also fought for and won the IBO World Super Middleweight Title before he even faced Roberto Duran for the IBC Super Middleweight Title.
As far as embellished true stories go, Bleed for This is not one of them. It stays true to it’s roots mostly, choosing to portray the landmark moments of Vinny Paz’s life and boxing career. The film does omit a lot of fights from his boxing record to only show the highlight fights, and I do feel like it missed out on making his comeback more emphatic. When watching the film I did not for one second buy that his return fight would be against Robert Duran, and that was clearly placed for dramatic purposes. Personally think it would have worked better had we watched Vinny go on the six fight win streak that saw him square off against ‘Hands of Stone’. Then again it would have been a longer film. However when it came to the drama outside of the ring, it’s as real as it gets. Either way, it’s a boxing film that is worth your time.