Boston's Mark Wahlberg will portray Lowell's Micky Ward in "The Fighter"

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2010

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JUNE 7:  Micky Ward is cut over his left eye during his Junior Welterweight bout against Arturo Gatti at Boardwalk Hall on June 7, 2003 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Gatti won a unanimous decision.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Fighter, a film starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale that chronicles the lives of former professional boxers “Irish” Micky Ward and his older brother Dickie Eklund, is scheduled to premiere in theaters within the coming months.

Wahlberg, born in the gritty Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, will portray Ward and Bale will playact Eklund.

Ward (38-13, 27 KOs), a retired junior middleweight pugilist from Lowell, Mass., is one of the more popular fighters in recent memory because of his ability to absorb vicious punishment while he awaited for his opportunity to clobber his opponent.

“Irish” Micky, 44, the winner of three New England Golden Gloves titles as an amateur, began his professional career with an unblemished mark of 14-0.

After his initial success, Ward suffered a string of disheartening defeats and he decided to quit the sport in the early-1990’s.

Following a three-year hiatus from the ring, Ward was convinced to return as a prizefighter by his half-brother, Eklund.

Eklund (19-10, 4 KOs), a welterweight boxer who once floored the legendary “Sugar” Ray Leonard (36-3-1, 25 KOs) in a decision loss, had previously squandered his ample talents and he hung-up his gloves in 1985 after he succumbed to his crack cocaine addiction.

Eklund’s life continued to spiral downward and he was eventually arrested and sentenced to 10-15 years in state prison for committing armed robbery.

While in the pen, Eklund, 52, overcame his drug dependence and, for a period, bettered himself as a man.

Upon successfully motivating his sibling, Eklund served as Ward’s trainer throughout the majority of his comeback.

“It’s the true story of two incredibly gifted boxers who were half-brothers,” Bale said. “The one, Dickie Eklund, who fought ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard at a very young age, when he was twenty-one, was an incredible natural talent. He lived a very hard life. Then he came to train his brother, ‘Irish’ Micky Ward to the world title.”

Ward, a perennial underdog who captured the WBU light welterweight crown, ultimately gained mainstream prominence because of his brutal trilogy with the late Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs).

Gatti emerged victorious in two of his three battles with Ward.

Nevertheless, two of the Ward-Gatti bouts were named Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” and round nine of their initial matchup was hailed as “The Round of the Century” by Emanuel Steward.

Ward exited the sport for good in June 2003 after Gatti beat him by decision at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

It is quite rare when one can claim victory in defeat.

However, Ward is a unique case in that regard and his losses to Gatti were achievements and testaments to his courage.

Hopefully, The Fighter has even a granule as much heart and allure as Ward did in the ring.

If it does, the film will be worth spending money to see just like Micky Ward was himself.

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