There are a few action stars in the world that audiences would love to see pitted against each other. While newer movies give us the opportunities to see stars like Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson going head to head, seeing the two face off against John Cena and Vin Diesel, what we are missing is a battle between old Hollywood action stars. Once upon a time, Denzel Washington was convinced that he could take Sylvester Stallone in a fight.
The first Rocky film came out in 1976, just two years after Sylvester Stallone debuted in The Lords of Flatbush. While almost no one knows about the mentioned movie, everyone knows about Rocky, and the film made Stallone a famous action star, putting him up there in the ranks of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Around the same time, Denzel Washington debuted his screen acting in the 1977 TV film Wilma. It later made his Hollywood movie debut in the 1981 film Carbon Copy. Ironically, the film was a comedy-drama, and it wasn’t until his 1998 role in The Siege that Denzel Washington started his graceful move into the action genre.
In The Siege, Washington stars as Anthony Hubbard, the head of the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Task Force in New York City, who teams up with CIA operative Elise Kraft (played by Annette Benning) as they try to deal with the fallout caused when the US military abducts an Islamic religious leader that is suspected to be a terrorist. After their abduction, a wave of terrorist attacks bombarded New York City, leading to the declaration of martial law, the FBI, the CIA and the US military, led by General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis).
Just before the film was released, Denzel Washington guest starred on the Late Show with Letterman, and a recent YouTube video on the Letterman YouTube channel shared an interview done on 11/6/1998 before The Siege aired.
At the time, Denzel Washington was already preparing and shooting his next role, which was Rubin Carter in the Norman Jewison-directed biography film The Hurricane, which is the true story of “Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.”
For the role, Letterman asked Washington if he was sparring while getting ready to portray the role of a boxer. Washington shared that he had been sparring with combatants while wearing headgear. Of course, Letterman asked the question on everyone’s mind, asking Washington if he thinks he can take on the star of one of the greatest boxing movies ever. “[Between] you and Sylvester Stallone, you and Rocky, who would win?”
Without skipping a beat, Washington replied, “If I was boxing Sylvester Stallone (laughs), no he couldn’t beat me. Not boxing. Maybe wrestling,” he continued, “Maybe if he got a good grip on me, but boxing, no. I’d knock him out.”
The statement was made playfully but confidently, and it would have been interesting to see who would have won in a fight between the two. Still, it seems unlikely, considering Stallone is in his 70s, and Washington is also nearing that. That being said, the two are still starring in action movies to this day, so you never know.
Who would win in a fight between Denzel Washington and Sylvester Stallone?