Saturday, August 01, 2009


It wasn't him, Charley, it was you...

This month, HBO is airing a powerful new documentary entitled Assault in the Ring, in which filmmaker Eric Drath seeks to uncover the truth behind the darkest day in boxing history. On June 16, 1983, Billy Collins, Jr. fought Luis Resto in an undercard bout for the Roberto Duran - Davey Moore fight in Madison Square Garden.

Collins was a highly-touted and undefeated phenom and Resto was a seasoned, yet uninspiring underdog with a 20-7-1 record. Resto dominated Collins in each of the 10 rounds, getting a unanimous decision. Celebration was short lived as Collins' corner quickly discovered that Resto's gloves had been tampered with. Much of the gloves' padding had been removed, prompting an immediate investigation by the boxing authorities and the NY District Attorney.

As for Collins, the severe damage to his eye sustained in the fight allegedly left him unable to box. Without the stabalizing force of a career, Collins' life plunged into a downward spiral that included drinking, drugs and an estrangement from his wife and child. Sadly, Collins died in 1984 when he crashed his car while driving intoxicated.

Ultimately, Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis were not only banned from boxing but also convicted and imprisoned for conspiracy and assault. Upon his release from prison, Luis Resto's life was very much a lonely and difficult life-imitating-art scenario, à la On the Waterfront (see below).

Originally titled "Cornered: A Life in the Ring," Eric Drath initially sets out with his cameras and investigative team to vindicate Resto, who has maintained his innocence for a quarter of a century. As facts and participants are confronted, Assault becomes an amazing journey of truth and redemption. Expertly put together and unapologetically honest, this 80-minute documentary is definitely worth a watch.

It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson." You remember that? "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money . . . You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley.