Exclusive: CounterPunch director Jay Bulger on his movie vision

Joe Hewlett 29/06/2017
Counter Punch Jay Bulger

Jay Bulger is the writer, producer and director of the new blockbuster film Counterpunch which has been commissioned for Netflix subscribers.

The film reflects on the politics that lies underneath boxing whilst also following three boxers in their quest to become champions in the amateur and professional ranks.

It took Bulger two years to produce the film and admitted past sporting films helped influence his process of creating the film.

“I loved Hoop Dreams, the basketball movie and to a certain extent On the Ropes which both are probably two of my favourite sports films. I grew up watching On the Ropes and it inspired me to move to New York and fight in the Golden Gloves initially,” he exclusively told WBN.

“When Netflix approached me asking to do a boxing documentary I was like yeah, I’d like to do On the Ropes but on steroids. A movie that encapsulates not only what it takes to be a Golden Glove’s boxer but what it takes to be the best in America from amateur to professional – Just like a whole life in a short period of time because they didn’t afford me the ability to spend longer than I did which was two years in looking at the trajectory and it was all based on the Olympics originally.

“I had over a year-and-a-half first to complete the film so I looked it and thought, well I can’t do Hoop Dreams here because it starts when the kids are about ten and ends when they are about 19 or something so as opposed to thinking of it as an entire boxing life through one person, I looked at it and thought, well if I pick three people in three different chapters I can do it through those two years.

The Beware of Mr Baker filmmaker spoke upon how he enlisted the chosen boxers for the film.

“Peter Quillin is at an interesting point of his career, giving up his belt plus he’s with the Al Hayman thing so he’s kinda the poster boy and even more so than Mayweather because Mayweather has autonomy and he’s powerful whilst Peter is Al Hayman’s main man as he’s loyal.

“So, I thought I could cover Peter. I can cover him with Al Hayman.

“With Cam, we had the entire amateur process and I was hoping maybe one spills over to the other. Maybe Cam will turn pro and it’ll turn into this waterfall of lives trickling into one another ending in retirement. I can only predict so much but that was the idea,” he chirped.

Not only did Bulger have the imagery vision, but he also had the ambition of attracting boxing royalty to the film. Counterpunch grabbed the likes Paul Malignaggi, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins.

So how did Jay coup such mega-stars to agree to feature?

“If you saw my first film about Ginger Baker then it has hundreds of people who kinda travel through different chapters. For this film, I wanted a real, solid cast that I could use throughout the film with champions from different generations.

“I approached them and asked how they felt about doing the film and they all seemed pretty interested considering the prospective of what I had set out to do, like with the Olympics for instance.

“I felt like De La Hoya, Hopkins and Leonard for instance were a good sample of what the film needed. If I could wish I could have interviewed anyone else then it could have Mayweather which would have been great.”


The 35-year-old opened up about the original concept of creating the film, hoping it would have an ambiguous interpretation to those who observed it.

“How can I show a movie to my Mom that can make her not only respect boxing but understand it?

“Counterpuncher’s are not meant to be fun to watch. People want to see someone who gets busted open and their head smashed in. However, counterpuncher’s are intelligent and I wanted to follow all three boxers with the highest ring IQ if that makes sense to give a new prospective to what it means to be an intelligent boxer,” he added.

Counterpunch is currently available to watch on Netflix. To watch the official trailer, click here.