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The Best Sylvester Stallone Boxing Movies

Sylvester Stallone is perhaps one of the most iconic actors in Hollywood history, and his portrayal of Rocky Balboa has secured a special place in cinematic history. His name is synonymous with boxing movies.

 From the Rocky franchise to other notable films, Stallone has played some of the most iconic characters in the genre. As such, it’s only natural for fans and movie buffs alike to wonder which of his many films stand out as his best works.

In this blog post, we will be taking a look at all of the best Sylvester Stallone boxing movies that you should definitely watch if you’re a fan of either boxing or Stallone himself. 

From his classics like ‘Rocky’ to more recent works like ‘Creed’, these films not only capture the essence of boxing but also feature some great performances by Stallone himself. And every movie will be from the oldest to the newest.

So whether you’re looking for inspiration or entertainment, these films are sure to leave you feeling inspired and entertained. So sit back, grab some popcorn and get ready for some knockout action as we take a closer look at the best Sylvester Stallone boxing movies ever made!

Who is Sylvester Stallone?

Sylvester Stallone is an American actor, producer, and filmmaker who has been active in the entertainment industry since the 1970s. 

He was born on July 6, 1946, in New York City and is known for his iconic roles in blockbuster films like Rocky and Rambo. Stallone’s filmography includes a wide range of genres such as action, drama, thriller, and comedy.

Stallone’s most famous role is arguably that of boxer Rocky Balboa in the Rocky film series. The first movie premiered in 1976 and was a commercial and critical success. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Picture. 

Stallone also wrote the screenplay for the first movie which was based on his own life experiences as an unknown actor struggling to make it big.

In addition to playing boxing roles on screen, Stallone is a lifelong fan of the sport. He has been involved with various charity events related to boxing over the years and even co-founded a professional boxing league called “Toughman Contest” in the late 1980s.

Rocky (1976)

Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Sylvester Stallone, who also stars as the titular character Rocky Balboa. The movie is an underdog story of Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer who gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. 

The film was produced on a budget of just over $1 million and grossed more than $225 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable films ever made.

Rocky won three Academy Awards in 1977 for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. It was also nominated for seven other Oscars including Best Actor (Sylvester Stallone), Best Original Screenplay (Sylvester Stallone), and Best Supporting Actor (Burgess Meredith). 

The film was also nominated for six Golden Globe Awards in 1977, winning three awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture (John G. Avildsen), and New Star of the Year – Actor (Sylvester Stallone).

Rocky II (1979)

Rocky II, released in 1979, is the sequel to the Academy Award-winning boxing movie, Rocky. The film picks up right where the first one left off, with Rocky Balboa recovering from his brutal fight against Apollo Creed. 

Battling financial troubles and struggling to find a new purpose in life outside of boxing, Rocky decides to make a comeback and take on Apollo for a rematch.

The film features some of the most iconic scenes in all of cinema history, including the famous training montage set to Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now.” 

Sylvester Stallone delivers another powerful performance as Rocky Balboa and Carl Weathers reprises his role as Apollo Creed. The chemistry between Stallone and Weathers is electric and their final fight scene is nothing short of epic.

Rocky II received critical acclaim upon its release and was also a commercial success, grossing over $200 million worldwide. It solidified Sylvester Stallone’s status as a Hollywood star and cemented his place in pop culture history. In general, Rocky II is an excellent sequel that lives up to its predecessor while adding new layers of depth to its characters’ stories.

Rocky III (1982)

The movie marks the third installment of the Rocky film series and features an intense rivalry between two boxers, Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T) and Rocky’s former nemesis turned ally Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers).

Mr. T’s portrayal of Clubber Lang in Rocky III was widely acclaimed for its raw energy and ferocity. He played the role of a determined young fighter who was willing to do whatever it takes to win, even if it meant resorting to ruthless tactics both inside and outside the ring. 

His performance added depth to the storyline, which showed Rocky being pushed beyond his limits as he faced off against an opponent who refused to back down.

Meanwhile, Apollo Creed’s character underwent a transformation in this movie from being a rival of Rocky to becoming one of his closest allies. 

After losing badly to Clubber Lang in their first encounter, Apollo sought out Rocky for help in preparing him for a rematch against Lang. The dynamic between these two characters added emotional weight to the story which helped elevate this movie above its predecessors.

Overall, Rocky III remains one of Stallone’s most iconic films with memorable performances from Mr.T as well as Carl Weathers’ portrayal of Apollo Creed that made it stand out among other boxing movies during its time.

Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky IV, released in 1985, is one of the best boxing movies ever made. This movie not only tells a story about boxing but also delivers a strong message about patriotism and the Cold War. The antagonist Ivan Drago played by Dolph Lundgren is a formidable opponent for Rocky Balboa as he represents the Soviet Union.

Ivan Drago, the character played by Lundgren, is a symbol of communist power and superiority. He towers over his opponents at 6’5” tall with chiseled muscles and advanced technology to enhance his training. 

However, it’s not just Drago’s strength that makes him such an intimidating figure; it’s his cold demeanour that truly sets him apart from any other boxer in the film franchise.

Throughout the movie, we see Rocky gradually chip away at Drago’s exterior until he becomes more human-like towards the end of their final fight. This transformation highlights how fear can be broken down through perseverance and determination. 

Rocky Balboa (2006)

Two decades later another Rocky film was made and it was the last one called Rocky Balboa it was directed by and starred Sylvester Stallone. 

It follows Rocky Balboa, a retired boxer who decides to come out of retirement to take on the current heavyweight champion in an exhibition match. The film received positive reviews for its nostalgic feel, strong performances, and emotional storytelling.

The movie opens with Rocky Balboa living a quiet life in Philadelphia, running his restaurant named after his deceased wife Adrian. Despite health issues and personal setbacks, Rocky remains optimistic about life. 

However, when Mason “The Line” Dixon (played by Antonio Tarver), the current heavyweight champion, challenges him to an exhibition match, Rocky sees it as an opportunity to prove himself once again.

Throughout the film, we see Rocky’s determination and perseverance as he trains hard for the fight. He also reconnects with his estranged son and builds a new relationship with a young woman who works at his restaurant. In the end, while he does not win the fight against Dixon technically but wins it in spirit.

Overall, Rocky Balboa is a heartwarming comeback story that reminds us of one of cinema’s most iconic characters’ resilience and strength despite challenging circumstances.

Creed (2015)

Creed is a sports drama film directed by Ryan Coogler and written by Coogler and Aaron Covington. It tells the story of Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed, who aspires to become a professional boxer like his father. The film received critical acclaim for its direction, performances, and screenplay.

The film was nominated for several awards including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky Balboa. Stallone also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, as well as the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor.

And it was also nominated for several other awards including the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay. 

Creed has been considered one of the best boxing movies in recent years and has helped revitalize interest in Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character Rocky Balboa.

Creed II (2018)

Creed II is the sequel to Creed I, which was a spin-off of the Rocky franchise. The movie follows Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan, as he faces off against Viktor Drago, played by Florian Munteanu. Viktor is the son of Ivan Drago, who famously killed Adonis’ father Apollo Creed in Rocky IV (1985).

The dynamic between Adonis and Viktor adds a new layer to the classic good vs. evil boxing trope. While Ivan trained his son to be a ruthless fighter like himself, Adonis has been shaped by his mentor Rocky Balboa to fight with heart and integrity. This clash of styles makes for an engaging and emotional storyline.

In addition to the compelling character dynamics, Creed II also features intense boxing scenes that highlight both fighters’ strengths and weaknesses. It’s a worthy addition to Stallone’s iconic boxing movie legacy and sets up potential for future installments in the franchise.

Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago: The Ultimate Director’s Cut (2021)

The Ultimate Director’s Cut of Rocky IV 2021 is a new version of the 1985 film Rocky IV, updated by the original film’s writer, director, and star, Sylvester Stallone. This version is officially titled Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago – The Ultimate Director’s Cut and includes 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage, adding to the original 91-minute runtime. 

This extended cut was personally crafted by Sylvester Stallone, who directed and starred in the original film The new footage includes scenes that focus on Apollo Creed and changes key aspects of the original film.

In this version, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), the heavyweight champion of the world, is the trainer for Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in an exhibition match against Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a “superman” boxer from the Soviet Union.


Sylvester Stallone has created some of the most memorable and beloved boxing movies of all time. From the Rocky franchise to Grudge Match, fans have been able to enjoy the action and drama that comes with a great boxing movie. 

His portrayal of iconic characters like Rocky Balboa and Robert “Razor” Sharp have become ingrained in pop culture, inspiring generations of viewers.

Frequently asked questions

What is considered the best Rocky movie?

When it comes to the Rocky franchise, there is a lot of debate about which movie is considered the best. Some fans argue that the original 1976 film is unmatched in terms of its raw emotion and realistic portrayal of the sport, while others believe that Rocky IV’s iconic training montage make it the quintessential boxing movie.

However, many critics and fans alike agree that Rocky Balboa, released in 2006, represents Sylvester Stallone’s most mature and nuanced performance as the titular character. The film explores themes of aging and mortality as Rocky comes out of retirement for one last fight against a younger opponent. 

With its poignant storytelling and heartfelt performances from Stallone and his castmates, Rocky Balboa serves as a fitting tribute to one of cinema’s most beloved characters.

If we had to pick then it would be the first rocky movie, the first one captured so many emotions and feelings that no other movie could do, and it’s one of the best boxing movies of all time!

Ultimately, each installment in the Rocky franchise has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult to definitively declare any one movie as “the best.” 

However, what remains clear is that Stallone’s portrayal of underdog boxer Rocky Balboa has earned him a place in cinematic history as one of Hollywood’s most iconic heroes.

What is Sylvester Stallone’s best movie?

Amongst all movies, there are two that stand out as his best: Rocky and Rambo: first blood. The original Rocky movie released in 1976 helped launched Stallone’s career into superstardom. 

It tells the story of a down-on-his-luck boxer who gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the heavyweight championship of the world. It’s an inspiring tale of perseverance and determination that resonates with audiences to this day.

On the other hand Rambo: First Blood is a 1982 film portrayal of a Vietnam War veteran struggling to adjust to civilian life. Stallone plays John Rambo, a highly skilled and traumatized soldier who becomes embroiled in a conflict with local authorities after being mistreated by police officers.

The film explores themes of PTSD, government negligence towards veterans, and the effects of war on soldiers. It also showcases Stallone’s acting range beyond his physical prowess as an action star. 

His performance as Rambo is nuanced and emotional, conveying the character’s inner turmoil and vulnerability.

But Rocky is Sylvester Stallone’s best movie in our opinion, it’s a timeless classic that has endured for more than four decades.

Rocky isn’t just a great boxing movie, though; it’s also an inspiring tale of determination and hard work paying off. Stallone gives a nuanced and memorable performance as Rocky, and his chemistry with Talia Shire (who plays his love interest) is palpable.

While Rambo First Blood is certainly a great film, there’s no denying that Rocky is the superior movie overall. It’s one of those rare films that manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking, and it continues to resonate with audiences today. 

Whether you’re a fan of boxing movies or simply looking for an uplifting underdog story, Rocky is definitely worth checking out.


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