By Chris Nashawaty
Updated April 22, 2009 at 05:03 AM EDT

Today’s biggest and juiciest bit of Hollywood casting news was the announcement that the Dark Knight himself, Christian Bale, would be joining Mark Wahlberg in the ring for David O. Russell’s boxing flick, The Fighter. And while I’ll admit that I’d watch that trio of boldfaced talents tackle just about anything, the news didn’t really come as surprise to me. Why? Because I’m obsessed with HBO’s great documentary boxing series, Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7. The show, which airs on Saturday nights, is basically a promotional lead-up to the May 2 fight between Filipino fireplug Manny Pacquiao and Mancunian muscleman Ricky Hatton. But it’s also unexpectedly moving. Especially the bits that deal with Pacquiao’s trainer — a sweetheart of a guy who’s fighting a battle of his own, one that he suspects he won’t win, with Parkinson’s Disease.

But back to Bale and Wahlberg. On last week’s episode, the two Hollywood stars were caught briefly by the camera standing ringside watching one of the fighter’s spar. But they weren’t just watching, they were staring, studying. It didn’t take a Ph.D. to do the math. Anyone who knew that Wahlberg was slated to star in The Fighter, and also knew that Brad Pitt and Matt Damon had fallen out of the project, could’ve put two and two together: Bale was now the guy. So now it’s confirmed.

I suspect that Bale will bring out the best in Wahlberg, an actor who can be great when he’s surrounded by actors better than himself and not so great when he’s not. That is, if the toxic combination of Bale and director Russell (two legendarily intense tantrum throwers) can be tamed.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep watching Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7 — not just because I’m looking for more cameos from Bale and Wahlberg, but also because it’s one of the best shows on cable right now.

Have you seen the show? What do you think? And what do you think of the Bale/Wahlberg teaming?

addCredit(“Christian Bale: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Mark Wahlberg: Jon Kopaloff/”)