With the original underdog boxing story approaching its 40th anniversary and the seventh film in the series hitting theaters, we’re rocking every major opponent for Rocky Balboa throughout his (mostly) knockout franchise.
Rocky has been the pre-eminent sports movie franchise since the original movie debuted in theaters back in 1976, and even though critics have levied insults at the series for hitting the sequel pipe one too many times (though six sequels in 39 years is a hell of a lot of restraint), most of Rocky Balboa’s cinematic exploits have been able to deliver drama and hard-hitting combat in equal doses. Even if the doses haven’t been as strong for the two most recent movies, early word about Creed seems to indicate that this fighter has found his footing once again (even if we are a bit angry that the seventh movie didn’t turn out to be Adrian’s Revenge).
Even if the the Rocky franchise is reinvigorated, it’s highly unlikely that any future film will ever put Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character in the ring again. With that in mind, we’ve ranked every notable fight the Italian Stallion has taken part in over the series’ first six films. Some caveats; sparring sessions don’t count, nor do completely unidentifiable fights (looking at you, Rocky III montage). If Rocky or his opponent threw a punch, it’s a fight. Okay? Now ring the bell!
11 – Clubber Lang
I know this is controversial, since Clubber Lang owns the only knockout victory recorded against Rocky, but I posit that Clubber Lang didn’t knock out Rocky Balboa. Grief and unpreparedness scored the victory there. Once Rocky got over Mickey’s death and took part in proper training thanks to Apollo Creed, he destroyed Clubber in the shortest non-montage victory in the entire series. Not much of a contender when you look at the tale of the tape.
10 – Tommy “The Machine” Gunn
Rocky V is just filled with stupid contrivances, and Tommy Gunn’s ranking is a result of the film’s stupidity. Rocky starts training the up-and-coming boxer because of a stupid legal move that makes the most famous champion ever dead broke. After Tommy betrays Rocky and beats a weak champion, the young Gunn challenges Balboa to a match. Despite Rocky being barred from fighting due to brain injuries, Rocky agrees to a street fight where there’s no money to be won. In the next movie, Rocky’s fit to fight, so I posit that Tommy Gunn was so ineffective that his punches actually healed Rocky.
9 – Spider Rico
I sometimes wonder if Spider Rico was able to capitalize on Rocky Balboa’s ascent. He may have lost in the second round to the Italian Stallion, but it was a brutal fight, so why didn’t Spider ask for a grudge rematch? He’d certainly be able to afford plenty of locker room beers from that fight purse.
8 – Trevor Faus
There’s a newspaper article during the Rocky III montage titled “Rocky KO’s German Champ,” and this is the Germaniest-sounding dude on the Rocky Wiki. In a way, this dude was a precursor to Ivan Drago. Rocky goes to a foreign country, charms the citizens, and steals all the native fighter’s fans. Though this time he had fun with it, since he’s beaming after trouncing the Kraut.
7 – Mason “The Line” Dixon
Has there ever been a Rocky character with less emotion and build than his opposition in 2006’s Rocky Babloa? Dixon was pissed off because he lost a CG fight against Rocky. His heavyweight world championship matches were also being rejected, which is totally unrealistic, since champs on his level would sell shows by themselves. He trains poorly and barely wins a match against a 60-year-old, and he’s supposed to be satisfied at the end? /shrugs
Rocky’s most unexpected opponent, the weirdest named boxer ever, Hulk Hogan, and more await your challenge on the next page!