During his boxing career, Jose Antonio Rivera won the WBA welterweight and WBA junior middleweight titles. But today, when "The Fighter," received six Golden Globe nominations, Rivera might best be known for sparring with Mark Wahlberg in the film and the real-life Micky Ward.
Wahlberg, who portrays Ward, and co-stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and director David O. Russell were all nominated for Golden Globes. As was the film.
Rivera, who plays sparring partner Gilberto Brown in the film, worked with Wahlberg over several days while shooting the movie.
"I was very impressed how Wahlberg was able to copy Micky's lethal body shot," said Rivera. "Wahlberg's body shots made me cringe, but it was all in fun."
As a fighter, the two-time world champ also sparred with Ward. "I had suffered an abdominal strain preparing for a fight," recalled Rivera. "I asked my adviser Frank Rohacik if he could get me sparring with someone who is a good body puncher so I could test it. He said, 'I know just the guy.' Needless to say that was my introduction to Micky Ward. We sparred and things were going good until he hit me with his famous body shot right in the strained area. Naturally, I went to a knee and the sparring was over. We sparred each other a few more times after that initial sparring session in 1995 and I made sure to be prepared for those lethal body shots."