Antoine Fuqua’s sports film ‘Southpaw’ depicts the intriguing and inspirational saga of Billy “The Great” Hope. As Billy cherishes his fame as the undefeated Light Heavyweight champion, a Colombian boxer named Miguel “Magic” Escobar challenges him. After Billy’s wife Maureen Hope’s death, he sets out to regain his emotional and physical strength to own and win the ring again. As he prepares for a comeback, Magic Escobar comes his way again. Miguel Gomez, who plays Augustin “Gus” Elizalde in ‘The Strain,’ plays Magic in the boxing film. Captivated by Gomez’s portrayal of the boxer, we have found out whether the actor had learned boxing for the film. Here are our findings!
Did Miguel Gomez Learn Boxing?
Miguel Gomez joined the cast of ‘Southpaw’ with childhood boxing training experience. Gomez then joined his co-star Jake Gyllenhaal to train boxing under Terry Claybon, one of the most prominent boxing trainers in the industry. Gomez started his training by learning to fight with his right hand since he is a born southpaw, unlike Gyllenhaal, who had to fight left-handed to be a southpaw despite being right-handed. “Terry Claybon (the film’s trainer) had to really work with me to fight right-handed,” Gomez told Men’s Journal.
Gomez had to change his entire approach to day-to-day activities to adapt to fighting with his right hand. “I was using different parts of my brain, so I was brushing my teeth right-handed, doing things off set just to get used to it. Then, during shooting, I’d get hit and instinctively switch back to my left. Terry would be constantly like ‘get back to your right!'” the actor added. In addition, he watched the videos of Miguel Cotto, a Puerto Rican former professional boxer and world champion, to enhance his combinations and stance.
Gomez, like Gyllenhaal, had to train very hard and challenge himself to transform himself into the ruthless Magic Escobar. “We trained like crazy, we sparred all the time, we ran miles every day and learned choreography. You have to roll with the punches, so to speak, and keep the diet of a boxer, live the lifestyle. Lotta protein, the right kind of carbs for the energy. Anything that tastes good? Don’t eat it,” the actor said in the same Men’s Journal interview.
The result of Gomez’s hard work was astonishing. He became a boxer, not just physically. “It [the fighter] just lives in you. You sort of become it. You sort of believe it. The hotel I was staying at, I was telling everybody I am here for a fight. They would ask me what do you guys doing here [and I would reply] I got a fight coming up,” the actor said in an interview about how he started to feel that he was a boxer rather than an actor due to the intense training sessions.
Gomez’s relationship with Gyllenhaal made the training and filming of the action sequences easier for the actor. The trust they shared off-screen is evident on-screen as well. “We [Gomez and Gyllenhaal] hit each other all the time. Never on purpose but I think it was important for the film to take it as far as you can and go for it. Accidents happen, you know? I wouldn’t want to fight a pro fighter, in any way shape or form. They dedicate their whole life. Jake is hard enough,” the actor added to Men’s Journal.
As an actor, Gomez was committed to putting all his effort and becoming selfless to become the Magic Escobar director Antoine Fuqua envisioned. He abstained from sex for two months to follow the regimen of several fighters he knew. Training 8 hours a day for several months, attending fight camp, and following the diet of a boxer further helped him perfect his body and mind for the role of Magic Escobar.