Over the years, Hollywood has given us great boxing movies but not always great boxers. Jon Voight ("The Champ") and Antonio Banderas ("Play It to the Bone") were more pretenders than contenders.

Mark Wahlberg, however, is very convincing as Micky Ward in "The Fighter." Wahlberg, who was nominated for a Golden Globe, had a ring built in his home and trained four years for the role. He perfected Ward's signature punch - a left hook to the body. This is not merely an actor getting by on athleticism. Wahlberg's balance, transfer of weight and sharp delivery of the left hook would make any pug proud.

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"We've had trainers tell us that Mark could fight right now, and win," said co-producer Jeff Waxman, who is from Plainview. "His number one focus was that it had to be real. Mark took every shot. That's the only way he would do it. There were times we were concerned that he might get hit too much. We didn't use stuntmen, and we used real fighters as the opponents."

One of those real fighters was José Rivera, a former world champ who occasionally sparred with Ward. "I was very impressed how Wahlberg was able to copy Micky's lethal body shot," said Rivera, who plays a sparring partner in the film. "Wahlberg's body shots made me cringe. Let me tell you, he didn't want to take it easy. But it was all in fun."