Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno were like “old friends” when they reunited and had “a very natural, honest conversation” for a new Sky Documentaries film, says the director.
‘Bruno v Tyson’, released February 26 on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV, focuses on the fascinating relationship between the boxers as well as the two heavyweight title fights that they shared.
The theme throughout the documentary is of Tyson, who won both of their fights, “haunting” Bruno – and this also provided them with the desire to reunite 31 years after first trading punches.
“Frank was keen to do the documentary not just for entertainment purposes, but because there was unfinished business,” said Ben Hirsch, the director.
“They hadn’t had a proper chat since their second fight. Tyson ended Frank’s career.
“Frank wanted to close this chapter of his life. He was really keen to catch up with Tyson to talk.
“It was like two old friends – they were completely natural with each other.
“Because they were talking to each other, they opened up more honestly. I think they both see themselves in the other.
“For the majority of their chat we just sat back and let them talk. It’s their story, they know it best.
“They had a very natural, honest conversation.”
Tyson won their first fight via fifth-round stoppage in 1989 in Las Vegas.
The popular Brit Bruno would need four opportunities before finally becoming world heavyweight champion.
In his final fight, in 1996, he again faced Tyson who won inside three rounds.
“Their relationship went back to when they were teenagers when they sparred together,” explained Hirsch.
“They had a mutual respect because they had similar upbringings.
“We kept uncovering more and more footage of how their lives intertwined. My favourite part was Tyson receiving an award and Bruno is brought onto the show – he doesn’t really serve any purpose.
“It was a period in Bruno’s life where he wasn’t boxing anymore and had got into pantomime. Tyson was saying: ‘I hear you sing now, Frank?’
“You get the sense that Tyson is goading Bruno. Watching it back now, it felt quite cruel.
“Their lives overlapped and intertwined.”
The theme of Bruno finally achieving his dream but never being able to defeat Tyson is at the heart of a documentary that transcends boxing.
“This isn’t just for boxing fans. It’s a story that people can relate to,” said Hirsch.
“It was Bruno’s dream to be world heavyweight champion and he dedicated his life to it, but the recurring theme is that Tyson was in his way.
“It is relatable even to people who aren’t sports fans.”
Bruno v Tyson is available on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV from Friday 26th February at 21:00. The exclusive trailer was made available by Sky as part of announcing a record line-up of new and exclusive original TV shows and films for 2021 and 2022.
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