From Rocky and Apollo Creed’s famous first match to Adonis & Ivan Drago in Creed II, check out the best matches from the combined Rocky and Creed franchises!
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When Rocky came out in 1976, it didn’t take long to become one of the most loved film franchises and one of the most iconic sports dramas in cinematic history. Who doesn’t love the adrenalin-inducing brawls, the heart-pumping training montages, and the astounding victories of the underdog? Once the final film in the series, Rocky Balboa, was released in 2006, die-hard fans feared that they would never get a story as impressive, but they didn’t have to worry for long. 2015 marked the debut of the spiritual successor, Creed.
Holding up the tradition of starring in the leading role and directing the film, just as Sylvester Stallone had, Michael B. Jordan gave Rocky fans the much-needed continuation of their dreams. Like its predecessor, Creed breathed new life into the franchise with beautifully coordinated combat scenes. Whether or not you go to the movie for the story is entirely up to you. Still, many fans return repeatedly for the adrenalin of the match scenes.
Here are the top 10 brawl scenes and matches of the Rocky and Creed movies.
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11. Adonis “Donnie” Creed vs Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson (Creed III)
Creed 3 builds up to an epic heavyweight championship battle called the “Battle for Los Angeles” between Adonis Creed and Damian Anderson (a childhood friend of Donnie’s). Anderson won the belt from Felix Chavez, and Creed comes out of retirement to face Anderson after a public dispute at Anderson’s party. What’s great about the scene is that it’s unlike anything else we’ve seen in the Rocky franchise before. Many attribute the unique style in which the match is captured to Michael B. Jordan’s love for anime. Plus, instead of being held in a traditional boxing venue, the brawl was hosted at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. After a gruelling 11 rounds, Adonis emerged victorious over Anderson, thus regaining the Heavyweight championship. But it’s what happens after the match that truly wins the audience’s hearts. It deserves a place on the best matches in the Creed franchise.
10. Rocky Balboa vs Thunderlips (Rocky III)
You rarely get to see two great movie stars battling it out on screen, especially when one is a professional wrestler. Thunderlips, played by Hulk Hogan, might not have been a tough match to Rocky in the film, but there is no doubt the monster of a man could take down anyone in real life. The match between Rocky and Thunderlips wasn’t too serious, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Both put on an entertaining show, riling up the audience. Sometimes the enjoyment of the brawl is the atmosphere, which is true for this scene. Besides, who doesn’t love Hulk Hogan?
9. Adonis Creed vs Viktor Drago (Creed II)
The big draw of this match was its legacy. The match is intense and a bit of a grudge match as the two boxers trade blows that seem personal, and it’s no wonder why. Viktor Drago is the son of the man who mortally wounded Adonis Creed’s father while in the ring, so Adonis wasn’t just battling to win; he was endeavouring to avenge his father’s passing. However, Adonis eventually prevails, pushing himself to the brink of exhaustion, proving that he is a champion and not just the son of a legend that passed from injuries in the ring and avenging his father.
8. Apollo Creed vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV)
Speaking of the previous opponents’ fathers, this is the fateful match where Apollo lost his life in the ring. The match is iconic in the sports drama movie world, pitting two amazing boxers at the top of their game against each other. Unfortunately for Apollo, Ivan was an absolute machine. It lacked self-control, leading to Apollo losing his life while in the ring. Luckily for him, his son avenged his loss in the later spiritual successor.
7. Rocky Balboa vs Clubber Lang (Rocky III)
Since Rocky, an underdog, managed to take the title of heavyweight champion, he had a lot of opponents who wanted to do the same, proving to the world that they could make it. Unfortunately for Clubber Lang, being brash and aggressive isn’t what gets you to the top. The brawl between the two is brutal and almost a little bit of a lesson, as Rocky teaches the kid some manners. Although the match seems toe-to-toe, Rocky emerges victorious as usual.
6. Adonis Creed vs Leo “The Lion” Sporino (Creed)
I never really understood the point of the name “The Lion”. Despite being a skilled champion and on a winning streak, Leo Sporino didn’t seem like a lion in the ring when he faced off against Adonis Creed in the first movie. Yes, he gets Adonis to push himself quite a bit, but the lion is the ‘king of the jungle’. Clearly, that title goes to Adonis Creed, proven when he takes the championship title.
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5. Rocky Balboa vs Clubber Lang (Rematch, Rocky III)
It seems like Clubber Lang hasn’t learned his lesson as he tries for a revenge rematch against Rocky, but Rocky has a score to settle. Clubber Lang had been involved in the passing of Mickey, Rocky’s trainer. Clubber had shoved Mickey, causing him to have a heart attack. Although many would argue this is caused by natural causes, it was inadvertently caused by the mohawked boxer. Clubber Lang goes into the match thinking he will finally get the championship over Rocky that he deserves. Still, Rocky is determined to make him pay for the tragedy he has caused.
4. Apollo Creed vs Rocky Balboa (Rocky)
Rocky only became an iconic movie with an iconic boxing scene. The match between Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa is arguably the most iconic. Creed was the reigning champion at the time. This was a real feel-good brawl, where Rocky lost on points, but in the end, he had gained the respect of both Apollo Creed and the world watching. So who is the real winner here? After this epic match-up, the bond between these two was so strong that they were the perfect example of a cliché ‘rivals to friends’ fantasy book but in the best way possible.
3. Adonis Creed vs Ricky Conlan (Creed)
This match almost didn’t feel fair in the end, with Ricky Conlan being a very skilled boxer but on the verge of retirement. The two gave it their all, but in the future, Creed had a whole bucket of youthful fire on his side and ended up winning. Having one of his last brawls against a legacy champion like Apollo Creed isn’t a wrong way to go out, though…
2. Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed (Rocky II)
This was a rematch between these two boxers, and they made it worth watching for all the film’s spectators and the audience. This was an intense battle, not because the two boxers had any malice towards each other, but because of what they were doing it for. Creed was trying to win his title back, trying to show anyone that the last loss was a fluke, while Rocky was doing it to keep his title and his sense of self-worth. Although they went into it for the right reasons, Rocky ultimately won the match, remaining victorious and creating a beautiful alliance and friendship.
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1. Rocky Balboa vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV)
The match between Rocky and Ivan Drago is the most iconic and best brawl on this list. The showdown occurred after the tragic accident in the ring that caused the passing of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s former rival and friend. The stakes are higher than ever. The match is not just about politics and national pride. Oh no, it is about revenge.
The match occurs in Moscow, Drago’s home soil and all the odds seem stacked in his favour. The two boxers trade blows that send shockwaves through the arena, hyping up the crowd until the excitement is almost tangible. The match ends as Rocky lands a flurry of staggering hits that leave Ivan stunned, along with the spectators. Finally, Rocky had a victory against the intimidating Ivan Drago and revenge for his fallen friend.
This brawl is at the top of the list because it encapsulates everything we love about the Rocky and Creed franchise. The tale of the underdog is something that we can all relate to. The inspiration of triumphing over adversity has the heart and determination to stand above all the odds and prevail, no matter the size or strength of the task we are faced with. The Rocky and Creed franchise has delivered some of the most epic scenes in the history of cinema, each one with its own story, flavour, and triumphs. Never underestimate the power of a determined underdog.
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What are your favourite boxing matches in Rocky and Creed?