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‘The Fighter’ climbs into kudos ring

Pay-per-view boxing match perfect for party

Awards season often can feel like a prize fight, but the sparring was for real Saturday evening at the viewing party for the Pacquiao-Margarito match at the Mandeville Canyon home of “The Fighter” producer David Hoberman.

Using the occasion of the much-anticipated super-welterweight fight as an original platform for Oscar campaigning, the pics’ producers, Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, invited journos from Variety and ESPN, bloggers and former New York Post Page Six columnist Richard Johnson, who’s now working on new digital ventures for News Corp.

Mandeville Films project “The Fighter,” with a cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, would seem to have built-in awards traction, but Hoberman and Lieberman felt it was also important to show journos the reality of the modern-day boxing world — via Hoberman’s digital screening room.

With beers and tacos in Hoberman’s bucolic backyard, guests watched a fight for the ages: the brutal and dramatic assertion of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao over the heroic Mexican battler Antonio Margarito.

“When we saw that this fight was coming up and it looked like it would be the most-watched match in ages, we saw our chance to remind writers what boxers like Mickey Ward (whose life story the film chronicles) can go through when they get in the ring,” Lieberman said. Early estimates had more than 1.4 million buys for the $55 pay-per-view event.

Judging by a couple of conversations, the moviecentric attendees might have been more interested in stars than sparring. But once it became clear that the boxing match was the main event, everyone settled in and stayed until the violent bout’s bloody end. Whether or not Hoberman and Lieberman succeeded in focusing attention on boxing’s colorful characters and human costs, the bout onscreen certainly made the fight for an Oscar look like a game of pat-a-cake.

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