ROCKY III (1982)

Boxing News - - The Life Times of Rocky -

BY the third film, the grit and strug­gle of the first two was way be­hind Bal­boa. He was an un­stop­pable heavy­weight cham­pion, re­tain­ing his ti­tle 10 times with a string of daft knockouts, chal­lengers be­ing flung through the air by the force of Bal­boa’s power punches.

Mak­ing his way up the rank­ings was a fighter Mickey would rather Rocky didn’t face, the for­mi­da­ble Clubber Lang [above], a brood­ing, ruth­less south­paw who was so in­tim­i­dat­ing ref­er­ees let him get away with hit­ting his op­po­nents when they were on the floor.

Lang was played by Mr T and might have been played by Earnie Shavers had he not failed his au­di­tion by hit­ting Stal­lone so hard in the stom­ach he had to run off to be sick. Turned out, Mickey was right about Lang… He didn’t see the first fight. Mickey was back­stage fight­ing for his life hav­ing suf­fered a heart at­tack af­ter be­ing caught up in a melee when the fight­ers clashed on their way to the ring. Mickey died with a smile on his face, mo­ments af­ter Rocky told him he had beaten Lang in two rounds. Bal­boa was ly­ing. It was he who had been blasted out early.

In Mickey’s ab­sence, Creed trains Bal­boa, takes him back to his Los An­ge­les roots with the in­ten­tion of giv­ing Bal­boa rhythm and flex­i­bil­ity. A guard and some head move­ment might have been good ideas as well.

The trans­for­ma­tion of Bal­boa doesn’t go well un­til Adrian gives Bal­boa a talk­ing to on the beach and what fol­lows is a stir­ring mon­tage fea­tur­ing some homo-erotic mo­ments be­tween Apollo and Bal­boa in the sea.

Fol­low­ing that, Rocky is ready for his fi­nal, ca­reerdefin­ing fight with Lang and, wear­ing Creed’s shorts, he comes out box­ing like him, jab­bing and mov­ing, al­beit at a pace that a strawweight would strug­gle to main­tain for more than three rounds.

Bal­boa strays from the game plan in the sec­ond, re­vert­ing to his hands-down-get­ting-hit-very-hard-in-the­face tac­tics. He ends up on the floor twice be­fore get­ting back to his box­ing. He blocks and coun­ters ef­fec­tively and then hits Lang flush with about a mil­lion punches to fi­nally send him crash­ing.

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