IT WAS the punch that robbed one of Scotland’s greatest boxers of his world title belt. And now the controversial fight between Ken Buchanan and Roberto Duran has been re-created for a new Hollywood movie starring Robert De Niro.
Hands Of Stone is a biopic about the Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, who won the world lightweight championship in 1972 after beating Buchanan, the defending title holder, at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
The epic battle, which ended in the 13th round when Duran punched Buchanan below the belt, was recreated on a Los Angeles sound stage in January with Edgar Ramirez playing Duran and the Irish boxer turned actor John Duddy playing the Scotsman.
Robert de Niro, the star of Raging Bull, plays the role of Ray Arcel, the legendary boxing trainer.
In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, John Duddy said it was De Niro who helped land him the role of Ken Buchanan. “I was training and sparring with Bobby to get him ready for his role in Grudge Match in which he played an ageing boxer opposite Sylvester Stallone. He was then going on to play Ray Arcel in Hands of Stone. The director had already lined up an Australian actor for the role of Ken, but when he pulled out at the last minute, Bobby suggested me for the role. I can’t thank him enough.
“It’s a huge honour to play Ken. He’s a hero, one of the great fighters and I just hope I do him justice. The filming took quite a while but it was a great buzz. The director had me come into the mock-up of Madison Square Gardens accompanied by bagpipes.”
Duddy was also keen to defend Buchanan’s honour during the filming of the scenes. He said that the film-makers shot the controversial scene a number of ways and he believes it was not an accidental punch but deliberate.
However, he added that he had no idea how it will appear in the finished film.
During the fight Duran was ahead on points at the end of the 13th round when Duran threw a punch after the bell had been struck, with Buchanan falling to the canvas in agony from the low blow. The referee, Johnny LoBianco, insisted the blow was in the abdomen and awarded the fight to Duran as he felt Buchanan was now unable to continue. Unfortunately for the Scots boxer, he was never allowed a re-match.
The film takes it title from Roberto Duran’s nickname “Manos de Piedra”, and was written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, the Venezuelan filmmaker who directed Secuestro Express, which was released to critical acclaim in 2005.
Hands Of Stone follows Duran through his career, including his bouts with Sugar Ray Leonard, who is being played in the film by the pop star Usher.
Yesterday Ken Buchanan said: “I can only say I wish he had played me on the night I fought Duran then he would have gone home with sore balls. It was sore in the 13th round. What happened does still smart as I do tend to live in the past, because when people come up and talk to me they are not talking about next week or next month, they usually want to talk about a fight that happened 20 or 40 years ago.
“Duran did very well and he went on to become a great champion so I can’t say anything bad about him. Today Roberto and I get on great, there is certainly no bad feeling, but it is strange to think of somebody playing me. I just hope the guy does quite well.
“I don’t know when it will be coming out, but I’ll certainly be watching it.”