6 – Paulie
Yes, Rocky did get into a brawl with his brother-in-law. At the height of Rocky’s fame in the third movie, a jealous Paulie takes a few swings at bro-in-law Balboa. It never connects, and Rocky was probably being facetious when he complemented his friend’s form, but props to Paulie for summoning the guts to take on the world champ.
5 – Big Yank Ball
This guy earns a respectable ranking solely based on his name, which was put on a Vegas marquee. The kicker? The actor’s nickname is ALSO Big Yank Ball. One thing is for sure; he sure didn’t have a ball when Rocky yanked him around.
4 – Thunderlips
Here’s a weird thing about the Rocky movies; half the title fights are sanctioned bouts, and the other half are “exhibition” matches that turn out to be brutal wars of attrition. It all started with Thunderlips, who fights a goddamn Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match against Rocky to help sponsor an after-school kid’s club. At least this friendly fight only ended with the fighters being thrown into unwitting crowd members and nobody in the ring died.
3 – George Washington Duke
As far as the enjoyment per punch ratio goes, you can’t beat Rocky’s one-punch knockout of Rocky V’s Don King-esque villain (who’s leagues more evil than Rocky’s unfaithful protégé). I like to think that the Italian Stallion’s modest earnings as a restauranter in Rocky Balboa were docked and that a large sum was actually awarded to the crooked promoter as part of a lawsuit settlement.
2 – Ivan Drago
As far as his two fights go, Drago has a pretty decent resume, murdering Apollo Creed and killing tons of Rocky Balboa’s brain cells. He’s also the most physically intimidating boxer ever put in a ring in any Rocky film. The one problem? Drago was on the gas. He’s the only competitor in the entire series to be portrayed as a steroid abuser, so Drago’s legacy is tainted with an asterisk.
1 – Apollo Creed
Apollo Creed was *so* close to ending Rocky’s rise to fame before it ever happened. Had he undergone even moderately competent training in his first fight against Balboa (rather than focusing on promotion and showboating), he would have had a much more decisive victory. In the second movie, he easily outscores Rocky for the whole fight, but changes up his strategy to attempt a knockout. When that fails and Apollo is taken down instead, he’s just a second away from surviving the final round and winning a second-straight decision. Again, he later loses to Ivan Drago, but that’s only because he falls back to his showboating ways and didn’t expect a friendly exhibition match to become bloodsport. The result of their empty gym exhibition is never revealed, but I bet Creed wiped the floor with Balboa at the end of Rocky III, thus making Apollo the posthumous best.
What do you think of these rankings? Where would you list Big Yank Ball? Let us know in the comments below!