"The Fighter": Fact vs. Fiction

Historical Inaccuracies in the Film

The Fighter

Paramount Pictures

"The Fighter" is a 2010 biopic about the relationship between real-life boxing half-brothers "Irish" Micky Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (played by Christian Bale) of Boston. The gritty realism of the film made it a huge success, and both Bale and co-star Melissa Leo won Oscars for their roles. While the movie gets many its facts about Ward's career right, including several fight sequences that are amazing in their accuracy and attention to detail, the film also takes liberties with the historical record, some for dramatic effect and others for no apparent reason.

Not So Down-and-Out

A boxer's record and his weight are important aspects of the sport. Yet, the movie exaggerates those figures in these areas:

  • The movie has Ward being on a losing skid coming into the Mike Mungin fight in 1988. In reality, Ward was 18-1 and on a four-fight winning streak heading into the Mungin fight. Ward's four-fight losing streak mentioned in the movie actually took place in 1990-1991.
  • The movie makes a big deal out of Ward being outweighed by 20 pounds in his fight with Mungin. In real life, Ward weighed in at 136.5 and Mungin at 145, an 8.5-pound difference.
  • The movie depicts Ward taking a terrible beating in the Mungin fight. In reality, the fight went the full 10 rounds and Mungin won by a very narrow decision: 96-93, 95-94 and 95-94 on the scorecards.
  • The movie mentions a number of Ward opponents -- Manetti, Collins, and Hernandez -- during one montage. In reality, Ward never fought anyone by those names.

Large and Small Inaccuracies in "The Fighter"

  • The movie makes it seem like Ward's upset of Alfonso Sanchez secured his title shot against Shea Neary. In reality, Ward beat Sanchez on April 12, 1997, and faced Neary on March 11, 2000, almost three years later and with six other fights in between (in which Ward went 4-2).
  • The movie has Ward's career record as 30-7 with 20 KOs as he enters the ring to fight Neary. In reality, his record was 34-9 with 25 KOs.
  • The movie has Ward and Neary both weighing 146 pounds. Ward weighed in at 140 and Neary at 139.
  • The movie has Ward's mom, Alice Ward, sitting at ringside with his girlfriend Charlene for the Neary fight. In reality, Ward's mom was not present at that fight.

No Knockdown

  • The movie has Ward being knocked down in round three of the Neary fight. In reality, Ward was never knocked down during the fight.
  • The movie has Ward hopelessly behind on the scorecards when he rallies to KO Neary in round eight. In reality, HBO's Harold Lederman had Neary ahead 67-66 entering the eighth round.
  • Finally, and most frustratingly to fight fans, the movie makes a big deal out of Ward's fight with Neary being for the world title. In reality, it was for the World Boxing Union title. No one considers the WBU belt holder to be the true world champion.