Rocky Road

By Robert Ecksel on June 3, 2015
Rocky Road
When Ali faught Holmes in 1981. Ali was passed his prime. He was not in the best health.

I didn’t major in Rocky Studies at the New School for Social Research. I’ve never been able to sit through a Rocky movie…

I am not a Rocky expert. I didn’t major in Rocky Studies at the New School for Social Research. I’ve never been able to sit through a Rocky movie. That may say more about me than the Rocky franchise. But Rocky is iconic, whereas I’m iconoclastic, just a guy with a stick of dynamite asking strangers for a light.

While searching the internet for a place to buy x-ray specs, I came across a Rocky-related slideshow titled “15 Things The Rocky Movies Taught You About Boxing That Are Total BS” by Caitlan Bussmann. Like most slideshows, it was short on literacy and long on snark. It was also riddled with misinformation. A little misinformation never hurt anyone. But a lot of misinformation, as the comments following the slideshow suggest, is an offense punishable by death.

15 Things The Rocky Movies Taught You About Boxing That Are Total BS

Rocky Balboa is a national hero, despite being fictional.

Unfortunately, the actual world of boxing differs wildly from the Rocky movies. When people tune in for their first real-world fight, they’re often spectacularly confused. Here are 15 things the movies lied to you about when it comes to boxing.

15. There’s One Champion (And It’s Hard To Be One)

So Rocky wins the Heavyweight Championship, and he’s the best boxer on Earth? Not so much.

In boxing there are five sanctioning bodies, each giving their own belts in every weight class. The WBO, IBF, WBC, Ring Magazine and WBA each have up to 17 weight classes. If none of the titles are vacant or unified, that means there could be 85 World Champions at any given time. There’s a belt for anyone.

14. It’s A Slugfest

In all of the Rocky movies, you will see more punches landed in a single round than are even thrown in an entire fight.

Especially in the Heavyweight bouts, it’s not about wailing on your opponent as much as it is finding that one perfect blow that ends the night. Waiting, strategizing and looking for an opening are what fighters do. Anyone who takes half the blows you see in a Rocky movie would walk away without the ability to speak.

13. It’s All About Head Shots

As great of an image as it is to see a nice, square punch in the face—that’s not the best strategy.

In the movies, it looks awesome to belt a guy in the side of the head and watch him drop. Boxing is like Spring Break because it’s all about body shots—the liver in particular. Pop a guy in the liver, and he’s got maybe one more round in him. Most KO shots are to the ribs or gut. Head shots are used to stun a guy.

12. You’re In Constant Danger Of Death

Full disclosure, you could absolutely die in the ring. It’s just really preventable.

Any fight fan can watch the Creed-Drago fight and agree there’s no way that would have made it to the second round. If a referee sees a bout is becoming one-sided, a fighter is clearly outmatched, a fighter is seriously hurt or is about to be, the fight is stopped. Officials will always err on the side of caution and stop a fight at a moment’s notice.

11. Trainers Are Yoda

Mickey was a super wise, super experienced trainer who knew everything there was to know and kept Rocky safe.

In reality, a lot of trainers have no clue what they’re doing. Most fighters can’t afford a Freddie Roach or a Joel Diaz and just go with whomever is available. More often, a trainer will give a fighter idiotic advice, make him think he’s way better than he is or make huge blunders in a fight, getting a fighter hurt.

10. Successful Fighters Become Civilized

After Rocky won the title, he started wearing suits and enunciating—because money does that.

In real life, a fighter who acts civilized was civilized to begin with. A lot of successful fighters continue to be pieces of garbage (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) and act like the hoodlums they were before they got big (Adrien Broner). Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao were like that before their belts, and even they have had issues.

9. You’ve Gotta Stay Hungry

Rocky lost his title to Clubber Lang because he got soft, right? The only way he beat Drago was because he ran up mountains and Drago used science.

In reality, the fighter who can afford a big, nice gym and a lot of experts and stuff has a massive advantage over the guy punching meat. He risks less injury and is using state-of-the-art equipment and methods. No sane fighter aspires to stay in the sweaty, moldy gym with broken equipment.

8. A Rematch Can Happen Immediately

In fact, one of the biggest lies Rocky told you is that champion fighters have 4-5 bouts a year. That’s not even close.

Some fighters who are still on the grind might have three fights a year. Big-name guys fight maybe once a year—two is pushing it. A rematch takes even longer to book than regular bouts. It took two years for Pacquiao-Bradley II to happen. Getting a champion to agree to a rematch is harder than calculus.

7. Unheard Of Fighters Can Show Up Out Of Nowhere

What was scary about Ivan Drago? Nobody had seen him fight. The only problem with that is Drago was a World Amateur Champion and Olympic gold medalist.

Anyone who wins an Olympic medal is immediately hot snot and the day he turns pro is an event. Even someone who does well as an amateur—not even a champion—is a sensation everyone wants to see. With a real Drago, everyone would have seen the films and wanted a piece of that.

6. There’s Just The One Fight That Night

You don’t just show up, walk in, the title fight starts, yay Rocky and you go home. What if you paid a grand for those tickets (which is a thing) and the fight is stopped in the second? Rip off!

Actual fights have up to 10 bouts prior to the Main Event called an Undercard. The final 2-3 Undercard bouts have sometimes even overshadowed the Main Event. An Undercard ensures fans get their money’s worth and leave happy.

5. Press Conferences Aren’t Supposed To Get Out Of Hand

Nothing could be further from the truth. Press conferences exist purely to hype the fight up, and if chaos breaks out, more people want to tune in.

Some of boxing’s best moments have come from pressers that escalate quickly. Mike Tyson’s expletive-laced, homophobic rant towards a writer is one of the most memorable moments in his career and was part of a presser for a bout with Lennox Lewis. It was also money in the promoter’s pocket.

4. Surprising An Opponent On Fight Night

“I can’t believe how much Rocky has slimmed down. He looks like a Middleweight,” says a shocked Stu Nahan at ringside. Which is a colossally idiotic statement, since he saw what kind of shape Rocky was in yesterday at the weigh-in. Or on Tuesday at the presser. Or this morning when you interviewed him.

Fighters don’t just walk out after not being seen or heard from in a month. You know what they’re up to.

3. Challenge A Guy And You’ve Got Yourself A Fight

Show up at his big thing, shout at him and tell him he’s a fool and you pity him. Then two weeks later you’re in the ring.

First, you don’t just drop a challenge like it’s a schoolyard. You don’t even call the fighter; your promoter calls his promoter. If he accepts, your promoters now take forever to agree on a laundry list of things like the venue, the payouts and even the size of gloves. That’s why Mayweather-Pacquiao isn’t a thing yet.

2. Everyone Loves The Champ

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world. Yet there are people (like me) who think he’s an obnoxious bum who should have his mouth duct taped shut. Winning a title does nothing to change people’s minds. Even the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali, had people who thought Sonny Liston was the champ and that Ali needed to shut up.

Just like people hate the New York Yankees for some reason, people will hate the champ.

1. Everything’s A Knockout

Ask an average fight fan to recall the last five bouts that ended in a bona fide knockout, and they might have to think really hard. They simply don’t happen often.

Fights usually end in either a decision or a referee stoppage. Even when you do see a KO, it’s rare to see a guy out cold like the movies. Most of the time, they can’t answer an eight-count. Except for when Juan Manuel Marquez put Manny Pacquiao to sleep; that was awesome.


Drew Jib • Stony Brook University

This author is an idiot. The first movie is from nearly 40 years ago. Boxing was very, VERY different then. Slugfests were more prevalent. There were still lots of belts but not quite as many, having one was a big deal and still is. Fighters fought more than the twice a year they fight now. In 1972, Muhammed Ali fought SIX times!

And part of her ineptness isn’t even about boxing, it’s about the movies themselves! How is everything about “knockouts”? Did you even SEE the first two movies?!

Learn SOMETHING about boxing history before you run your mouth.

Steven Preme Dottery • Saginaw, Michigan

Not to mention the “Drop a challenge, get a fight” line. The movie obviously implies that attempts to make a fight happen were already made and Clubber was under the impression that he was being ducked. So he resorted to tactics that George Chuvalo, Muhammed Ali and even recently Shannon Briggs have used in an attempt to make the public push for the fight. This article is mostly just wrong.

Luis Gabriel Gerena • Upgrade Engineer at EMC Corporation

Cant agree more. This guys has no freakin idea about boxing from that era. Go back to watching golf or soap operas instead of writing about boxing!

Matt Schissler Jr. • Minooka, Illinois

this was terrible…......I can’t believe I wasted 3 minutes of my life clicking through this…....

Kelley Harrop • Substitute Teacher at Meade County Board of Education

When the first Rocky movie was made, there was only one champion, Muhammad Ali, who had the WBA and WBC titles. At the the first movie was accurate. In 1978, After Leon Spinks defeated Ali, the WBC, wanted Spinks to box Ken Norton, who was the number one contender. Spinks refused, instead he gave Ali a rematch, and kept the WBA part of the title, but the WBC was given to Ken Norton.

Ken Norton would not hold the WBC title for very long after losing it in a close match to Larry Holmes. Leon Spinks would lose the WBA title in his rematch with Ali.

By 1983 I believe, Larry Holmes would give up the WBC crown, and would take the new IBF title. Today, I agree, that there are so many championship titles in boxing, that if they had them during the time of a young Ernie Shavers, Shavers would have won one of those titles.

Kelley Harrop • Substitute Teacher at Meade County Board of Education

As the first Rocky movie was accurate I meant to say. lol!

Eric Kirvan • Works at Hill AFB

Kelley Harrop Appreciate the trip down memory lane, but I’m guessing the guy who this article has no idea who anyone in your post is other than knowing Ali’s name. Always liked Ken Norton myself and would’ve loved to see Larry Holmes against those guys their prime—he came around a few years too late—his “fight” against Ali was one of the most pathetic bouts I ever watched. He literally punched Ali as little as possible to get the decision. I call it the “Muff” fight cuz he kept Ali away but muffing his forehead with an open glove.

Kelley Harrop • Substitute Teacher at Meade County Board of Education

Eric Kirvan i agree, When Ali faught Larry Holmes in 1981 I believe. Ali was passed his prime. He was not in the best health, and he should have never been in that ring with Holmes. When Ali was in his Prime, there would have been a better boxing match between Holmes and Ali.

Feargal Delphine

The Rocky films are as far from accurate when it comes to boxing as you can get; don’t talk shit about boxing if you don’t know about it. None of the fights even look real.

Shawn Effin Powell • Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rocky movies are Awesome, this article was stupid.

Joey Chang

Caitlin u ignorant bitch. Dont u ever lie about The Rocky saga, which touches peoples soul. The story is dont stop keep movin. just because ur miserable and all ur personal archetypes are lesbian suffregettes dead for 100 years and ur life is that of a blogger dont mess with Stallone!!! He came from nothing while ur mired in it!

Brave Czar

lol at #10… the writer gotta name drop the best living boxer in a negative light. Floyd Mayweather keeps playing the game of marketing and is caking off of it.

Brave Czar

ok the writer admitted in #2 lol. why people try to bring personal issues in boxing. Appreciate the skill it takes, Mayweather is the best boxer the past 15-20 years. He’s arguably the best ever.

Ben Miller • Program Director at Urban Faith Works

Brave Czar The idea that Mayweather is the best ever is laughable. He has not fought top competition until that competition is on the decline. Even if he had the competition he’s facing is nothing compared to the talent that Sugra Ray Leonard defeated (let alone Sugary Ray Robinson). Floyd hasn’t beaten one fighter as good as Duran, Hearns, or Hagler. Floyd will never be better than either Sugar Ray, Julio Caesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Willie Pep, or Henry Armstrong.

Feargal Delphine

Ben Miller I’m not a huge Mayweather fan as a person, but he is undoubtedly one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time. SRL got beaten by Jake LaMotta…JLM would not have come CLOSE to even hitting Floyd. Floyd made Canelo look like an amateur, and has skill beyond your comprehension. You probably watched the Pacquiao fight and think you are an expert haha

Robert W Mader • PSS Technician at Asurion

in most of the movies he hits the body so much that most of the fights he gets in end up grasping their ribs toward the end.. Did you even watch the movies?

He lost the fight against clubber because his manager was coddling him and letting him fight has-beens and well sort of had a heart attack moments before the fight. his head wasn’t in it.

Lastly you say that its not about knock-outs. The very first fight with creed was not a knock out fight. It ended with a decision!

ShaRall Willis • New York University

What the f@$ is your beef with the best fighter pound for pound in the world. You also sound like a child who really doesn’t know much about the history of boxing when there was only one champion per weight class and champions fought as many as 3 times a month to earn a living. It seems you wrote this “article to just take shots a Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Randy Goodman • Houston High

The creator of this post is a dumb ass. These are movies meant to entertain. We hear your opinion and think your a moron. This is obviously someone with little or no life that whats to mix words like lies and Rocky together for no other reason then to fulfill his needs to be himself. Rocky movies, outstanding for the era. Especially when you consider that Sylvester Stallone had to basically go it alone in the first installment.

Darryl Adams • Morgan State University

If the point of this piece was to get a bunch of negative attention…mission accomplished. If anyone needs a movie about a fictional character to ‘teach them something’, then it explains why we have failed as a society. It was a movie. Nothing more than entertainment (which has probably won more accolades then ole Caitlin here). What’s her next prize winning piece going to be about? How Spiderman lied to us about how to go about gaining superpowers? Or that CSI is total B.S. for solving crimes in a one hour time slot? But seeing as how this has gotten people to actually make comparisons between ‘Rocky boxing’ and how the process actually goes is pretty scary.

Gerald Ward • Harper College

To the idiots the wrote this, I’m sorry but it was too stupid to read to the end. I hope it got better. To the people that read it to the end, I’m sorry for your lost time.

Matt Russell • Western Carolina University

??? Rocky’s signature was body shots, then Mick would yell “knock his block off” with a right hook or left cross!

John Johnston

Yes, lets take a movie franchise about fictional characters, and tear it apart as if they were trying to depict it as a true story and call it trash. I wish I could challenge the people who wrote, edited, and produced this crap to a boxing match; prize being me getting the 3 minutes of my life back for reading this crap.

Ben Miller • Program Director at Urban Faith Works

15. At the time of the first Rocky movie there were two major titles in the HW division.
12. Referees used to let fights go on a lot longer than they do now. Mancini killed Kim in the ring.
8. In 1976 at the time of Rocky I. The current champ Ali fought 4 times. Joe Louis average 4 fights/year during his title run.
7. Leon Spinks came out of nowhere
3. Ali got Liston by doing just that. Also Lang was considered by everyone to be the #1 contender
2. A white heavy weight champion in the 70s and 80s that was true underdog story would have been immensely popular. Also Rocky didn’t beat women like Floyd Mayweather.
1. The first movie doesn’t have a knockout in it. Neither does the the last one.

Tom Holz • Works at Thuy’s Noodle Shop

articles like this exist solely to sell advertising. don’t expect insightful commentary.

Michael Martinez • Chalmette High School

Someone is plagiarizing.

Randy Hauser • Operator at TTM technologies

Who cares? It’s called Hollywood.

Scott Dekoster

15 Things The Rocky Movies Taught You About Boxing That Are Total BS should actually be called “15 things no one gives a shit about because it is a movie and no one is stupid enough to believe everything they see in a movie”.

Darwin Palmer • Youngstown State University

It’s not a slugfest? Go back and take a good look at Hearns/Haggler and tell me those two weren’t swinging for the fences in the first few rounds.

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  1. Bob 01:59am, 06/05/2015

    Regarding No. 11. Can’t tell you how many trainers only instructions seem to be “be first,” “jab” “double jab” or frantically waving their fighter to move forward on the offense even though they are overmatched. See it all the time at the club level.

  2. Buster 08:12pm, 06/03/2015

    Why waste time bringing attention to a crummy article? It was not worth wasting my time on—and neither are the stupid posts. Some things should just be ignored. Much ado about nothing.

  3. Kid Blast 06:16pm, 06/03/2015

    But did it not play into the stereotype of a punch drunk pug

  4. Eric 12:12pm, 06/03/2015

    The original Rocky was the only one that I really enjoyed. Rocky II? I got tired of waiting for Adrian to recover. Rocky III & IV were cartoonish. Rocky V, with all due respect to the late Tommy Morrison, this was IMO the worst of the Rocky movies. Rocky Balboa? I would rank it above Rocky V and slightly below III & IV. All and all, the original Rocky did a great deal of good for boxing, and it was even a major source of inspiration for real life champions like Vinny Pazienza.

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