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Redemption in the ring

Erik Gavica landed a series of jabs on Jai Bugarin, then let fly with a roundhouse swing.

But Bugarin ducked the punch and countered with a blow to Gavica's ribs, followed by a series of body shots that knocked his opponent down before Gavica scrambled back up to his feet. 

The knock-down, drag-out fight wasn't a real boxing match, although the actors playing two fighters dripped with sweat as they went through the choreographed scene under blazing lights illuminating the scene.

A film crew, actors and extras swarmed the Spartan Boxing Gym in Medford on Sunday to film scenes for the short film "Concrete Canvas," written by Luis Rodriguez. The film is being produced by LUI-G Films and is intended to be entered into film festivals, according to a news release.

Bugarin plays a washed-up boxer who can't get over a defeat in which he suffered a concussion.

"He was on his way up to become a champion, but he gets beat by this guy who was supposed to be a stepping stone in his career," Los Angeles-based actor Bugarin said of the character he plays. "He's stuck in that moment of defeat."

Fortunately for the boxer, the owner of a gym recognizes he still has potential and helps him get back on his feet — and rediscover his love of boxing.

The gym owner is played by Spartan Boxing Club Owner and Founder Troy Wohosky, who in real life trains everyone from kids to people in their 60s a block away from Medford Gospel Mission in a neighborhood that was the scene of a drive-by shooting earlier this year.

Wohosky said boxing is not just a sport, but a lifestyle that helps forge — and test — people's characters.

"It's not a forgiving sport. Whatever work you put into, it will show in the ring. Unlike baseball or basketball, you can't 'play' boxing," he said. "Boxing will make you or break you."

Wohosky said the plot of the movie is similar to a real-life experience he had helping out a homeless young man.

That young man, Matt Broussard, was at Sunday's film shoot, barbecuing meat to feed hungry crew members and extras. Taking a break from the grill, he said he came to the Rogue Valley from Louisiana with friends, but then ended up homeless.

"I was living in my '79 Lincoln," he recalled. "I would sleep in my car right here."

Broussard, whose father was a Golden Gloves fighter, began training at Spartan Boxing Club and helping Wohosky out with the kids who work out there. 

"Troy helped me get a construction job and get on my feet and unlock my potential," Broussard said of his mentor. "I have no family here. Troy's invited me to his house to have dinner with his family. This is like my family here. He's really taken me in."

Gavica said the homeless boxer character he plays goes on a journey to lift himself back up through boxing, but he doesn't travel alone.

"I view this movie as a film about hope — if we allow others to help us," he said.

—Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Erik Gavica, left, and Jai Bugarin rehearse a scene for a movie title 'Concrete Canvas' at the Spartan Boxing Club in Medford on Sunday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch