Eye of the tiger, heart of The Stallion
Miko Malabute | Thursday, December 10, 2015
Finals week is almost upon us, which guarantees three things: a lot of exams and papers, coffee and procrastination. I’ve decided to watch all of the old “Rocky” films in chronological order, as I just recently saw “Creed” in theaters over Thanksgiving break. As I walked with Rocky Balboa on his journey to becoming boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world, I couldn’t help but trying to determine who is the best pound-for-pound fighter of them all.
Tommy Gunn would clearly come in last, as he beat a heavyweight field devoid of any real talent and lost to a past-his-prime Balboa. The only thing Gunn had going for him is an awesome mullet. Joining him in the group of bottom-dwellers is Mason Dixon, as he was also guilty of winning in a very watered-down talent pool of fighters. One thing puts Dixon over Gunn, however, Dixon actually won.
The “middling” fighters of the pack include Ivan Drago and Clubber Lang, who really reminded me of each other (although they obviously had two very different personalities). Drago was almost superhumanly powerful, and the mystique around him due to his Russian background added an element of fear in “Rocky IV.” But let’s call it what it is: If he didn’t use PEDs, no chance he would even last six rounds with Balboa. Lang, on the other hand, was one of the fighters that I always thought could have been so much better than he was portrayed. He struck me as even more powerful than Drago (the latter literally killed a man with his fists) and had an amazing mohawk. But with every power comes a weakness — he had such awful stamina. If he could have found a way to last more than three rounds, he might have found himself in upper echelon of this fictional list.
The next level in my mind is occupied solely by the father and son: Apollo and Adonis Creed, and in that order. Apollo went toe-to-toe with Balboa in the first two films, and it could be argued that, in his prime, he would be a close second to this list’s top puncher, Balboa (spoiler alert). However, I have Adonis edging Apollo out. Adonis had a chip on his shoulder, something to prove throughout the entirety of “Creed” that extended way beyond boxing. It’s that chip and drive, along with years of pent-up frustration and hurt, that leads Adonis to really pushing himself beyond his limits (unlike Apollo, too caught up with showboating).
And still …
And then, there was Balboa. The Italian Stallion. The man was never supposed to be as good as he was, yet he never let status or outsiders’ expectations to dictate his future. He took matters to his own hands (literally) and never let another man — or life, for that matter — keep him down past the count of 10 (and for those who point out the first fight between him and Clubber Lang, let’s relax. He was clearly too emotionally hurt from Mickey’s condition). The only fighters who could come close to Rocky’s heart were the Creeds: Apollo, as he died rather than throwing the fight; Adonis, for the reasons mentioned above. But there was only one Rocky: He beat people much better, much faster and much stronger than he was, but he refused to quit and always got up for one more round.