Series reports on Maguila’s career and details knockout to Holyfield


The series “Maguila, a fighter”, to be shown in two episodes by TV Cultura, divides the career of Adilson Rodrigues, the greatest heavyweight in the history of national boxing, into two moments. The before and after of July 15, 1989, when he, then 2nd in the ranking of the CMB (World Boxing Council), faced the American Evander Holyfield.

The prize for the winner would be crossing the path of hitherto undefeated champion Mike Tyson.

The defeat by knockout in the second round started the Brazilian’s spiral of decline and was key to the most controversial moment in the history of the sport in the country: the order of Angelo Dundee, former coach of Muhammad Ali, for Maguila to exchange punches with the most agile and powerful opponent.

A strategy that sent the South American to the canvas, defend those interviewed for the documentary, which has a report by Roberto Salim.

Dundee, who died in 2012, leaves the series as the biggest villain in Rodrigues’ career. The athlete’s former manager, José Francisco Leal, Quico, questions even the coach’s honesty,

“To this day, we are not satisfied with Dundee’s position. [houve] a certain suspicion of him in the tactics corner, ordering the distance to be shortened when perhaps it was time (…). He had enough of a resume not to be fooled. He got the feeling that he was misguided and malicious,” he says.

The first episode will be shown this Sunday (5), at 20h. The second on the 12th, at the same time. Each is about 30 minutes.

Adilson Maguila Rodrigues was a sporting and media phenomenon in Brazil between the 1980s and 1990s. With a record of 85 fights between 1983 and 2000, he won 77 times, 61 of them by knockout. Most obtained because of his right swing. According to the fighter himself, in a statement to the documentary, where he hit with his right hand “hair no longer grew”.

The series discusses, in addition to folkloric interviews with Maguila, who started working as a mason and was on the verge of disputing the most coveted belt in world boxing, whether his rise was manufactured by the company of Quico and the narrator Luciano do Valle (1947- 2014).

The fights were the main attraction of Show do Esporte, Bandeirantes’ Sunday program that lasted more than eight hours and was managed by the announcer. The documentary does not shy away from talking about the comments at the time, that Rodrigues’ rivals were handpicked so as not to threaten his winning streak.

Salim, veteran of documentaries and programs for ESPN, devotes more time to the historic fight against the American James “Quebra Ossos” Smith, held in 1987, at Ginásio do Ibirapuera, in São Paulo. The treatment given is a great display of Maguila’s career, which shuts up the critics. Except for the statement by Judge Antônio Bernardo, the record is left out of the discussion about the outcome of the bout. The Brazilian won on points, in a highly contested decision.

With sequels of what is, according to physician Renato Anghinah, probably a chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the former athlete lives in a clinic in the interior of São Paulo. The degenerative disease is caused by repeated blows to the head. Maguila speaks slowly and with a lost look, but lucidly testifies about various career moments and with the help of his wife, Irani Pinheiro.

Hiring Dundee to be the coach was intended to take the next step in the Brazilian’s trajectory. The legendary trainer was famous for mentoring Muhammad Ali. According to the interviewees’ testimonies, the American’s work was a disappointment. The person accompanying Maguila’s training was an assistant.

Dundee arrived just two or three days before the fight. But nothing compares to the order for Rodrigues to go on the attack against Holyfield in the second round in Las Vegas, after having won the first on points.

“Before the fight, I asked Adilson not to go for it”, says Irani.

Quico’s observation is that, despite this and in any situation, Holyfield was a superior fighter and the fight should not have happened.

The documentary recounts Maguila’s technical and physical deterioration from that moment on, recalls another traumatizing knockout he suffered (against the American George Foreman), the fights held in Brazil without the same glamor as before and the somber images of the last time he rose to the top ring to be knocked out by Daniel Frank, an unknown heavyweight with just three previous fights as a professional.

“I’m not a dreamer. It’s over, it’s over. I’m not going to be born again”, sums up Maguila himself about his post-boxing life, no longer sending hugs to several people in interviews after the fights, which was one of the components of his folklore.

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