Eva Longoria Bastón is going to war in the ring…
The 46-year-old Mexican American actress, director and producer has helmed La Guerra Civil, a documentary that highlights the clash of boxing champions Oscar de la Hoya and Julio César Chávez.
de la Hoya and Chávez first faced off in 1996, then battled each other in a rematch in 1998.
“I call it the golden age of boxing, like this was when boxing was at its best,” Longoria Bastón said during an appearance in Deadline’s virtual Sundance Studio. “Not only was boxing as a sport its best, Oscar and Julio were the best at that time. It feels like a time that’s gone. It feels like it’s so far away. But yet it was like yesterday.”
The bouts attracted huge attention in part because of the incredible skill of the combatants, but also because of the communities the men represented: de la Hoya grew up Mexican-American in East L.A.; Chávez was born and bred in México, a national hero in his homeland. Each fighter boasted ardent followings. But even some of de la Hoya’s family were big-time Chávez fans.
“When you have your uncles rooting for Chávez, it was very strange,” de la Hoya recalled. “But it was fun because Julio César Chávez is such a great, iconic figure in Mexico, and I was coming up after winning the Olympic Gold Medal, winning world titles. So, it’s the young bull against the older, experienced lion. It was a great rivalry.”
de la Hoya and Chávez, who have become friends since their days in the ring, both appear in the documentary. de la Hoya praised Longoria Bastón’s directorial work.
“The way Eva just put it together was incredible. She captured the important moments, those moments that literally divided our cultures because of this fight,” de la Hoya commented. “The Mexican national was my uncles — they were rooting for Chávez. The younger generation was rooting for me, the Mexican-American. So, it was it was pretty heated. Eva just captured it perfectly.”
Longoria Bastón said she grew up following boxing.
“First of all, I’m Mexican as well. Boxing is our opera. We get dressed up, we get to go experience entertainment,” she noted. “Other people have opera. We have boxing. So, I think you can’t grow up in a Mexican household and not be a fan of boxing.”
La Guerra Civil heads to the subscription sports streaming platform DAZN after its Sundance premiere.
“We really wanted to tell a sports story that hadn’t been told before,” said Grant Best, a DAZN executive who is also a producer of the documentary. “Boxing, probably more than any other sport, is not shy, it’s not afraid to connect itself with race and heritage and cultural differences, using its characters, talking through its competitors and to its fanbase… Both Oscar and Eva are perfectly placed to discuss that cultural divide that took place around the narrative of these fights.”