In March of 1966 Canadian boxing champion George Chuvalo fought Muhammad Ali in one of the more interesting fights in the history of boxing. The Last Round – Chuvalo Vs Ali is a documentary about that fight and the various factors that led up to it.
The fight - while relatively unknown today - was a big deal at the time for many reasons. Notably because it was right after Muhammad Ali had denounced the Vietnam War by refusing to register with the armed forces. Due to his defiance the American boxing associations frowned upon his decision and every state in the Union refused to give him a boxing license. Ali and his entourage headed to Canada to fight Ernie Terrell. But Terrell pulled out at the last minute because the purse money fell out of the fight.
That left a tough young fighter named George Chuvalo who had been itching to fight Muhammad for three years. At the time Chuvalo was a sound fighter who for a while was considered to be the next great white hope. He was a handsome, well built, articulate, working class kid who was ranked in the top 10 and well respected in the boxing world because he had 27 knockouts to his name.
The documentary, directed by Jon Danziger, is replete with interviews with Chuvalo, his trainers, fight historians as well as other fighters. There is also a good amount of archival footage of Chuvalo and Ali including fights that each of them had with other opponents.
What's most interesting is that the filmmakers chart the parallel careers of both Chuvalo and Ali. While many know Ali it is interesting to see the path of a relatively unknown fighter who could easily be forgotten in history even though he was a professional fighter for 22 years.
The documentary is very engaging whether you know anything about the era or not. One of the reasons is because Chuvalo is such a winsome guy. But also because it covers a very interesting time in the history of boxing right as the mob was losing control of the sport and the country was going through growing pains.
At times the filmmakers try to present Chuvalo as the tough luck hero and Ali as the lucky one who dodged the tough fights and had all the luck. This is a bit dubious but one thing it gets accurate was the mixed feelings many had about Ali in the 1960's; even though he was enjoyable to watch and at times quite comical his affiliation with the Black Muslims, his questionable second fight with Sonny Liston and his anti-Vietnam War stance made some wary of him.
This particular fight would seem a footnote in history if not for this fine documentary. It is highly recommended.
The documentary is shot in video and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It looks very clean and sharp. The old footage looks…well old but it's hardly a concern. The quality of the transfer is good.
Presented in mono.
There are brief bios on each of the filmmakers and a whole bunch of trailers from Docurama.
The Last Round is an interesting and at times riveting documentary about the parallel paths of two boxers who fought each other in 1966; one Muhammad Ali - who became a legend and the other George Chuvalo who has been somewhat forgotten. The film itself is highly recommended but since there are no extras to speak of the DVD is just recommended.