The trailer for the second installment of Creed (eighth if you lump it together with the original Rocky franchise) was just released. And from what we could infer, Adonis Creed’s past is catching up to him as he faces none other than the son of Ivan Drago, the man responsible for his father’s death.
For those who are too young to remember, Ivan Drago was the main antagonist in Rocky IV (released in 1985). He was a Russian champion, played by Dolph Lundgren, who challenged and eventually killed Apollo Creed in the ring forcing Rocky Balboa to fight him and avenge Apollo’s death. Much like the first movie, Creed 2 looks to heavily reference the story arcs of the original series, which makes this match-up a grudge match of sorts. But since the movie won’t be out until late this year, let’s take a look at real-life pugilists who many consider the greatest rivals ever to step foot in the squared circle to get us pumped up.
Micky Ward v. Arturo Gatti
May 2002, Nov. 2002, June 2003
“Irish” Micky Ward and Arturo “Thunder” Gatti first met on May 18, 2002 in a barn burner of a fight that would, later on, be named Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year. Ward took the decision after knocking Gatti down in the ninth in what was an extremely close fight. They would cross paths again two more times. Gatti won the next two matches but both were all out brawls and extremely close to call. Their third encounter in 2003 was once again declared Fight of the Year and their trilogy would pretty much define both of their careers and place in boxing history.
Riddick Bowe v. Evander Holyfield
Nov. 1992, Nov. 1993
Before Tyson did a Van Gogh number on Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, his matches with top contender Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe to defend the heavyweight title were some of the most exciting in heavyweight history. They met twice with Bowe dethroning the champ on their first outing only to lose the rematch the following year. The 10th round of their 1st match, in particular, is considered one for the books winning Ring Magazine’s round of the year for 1992.
Tony Zale v. Rocky Graziano
1946, 1947, 1948
A classic seesaw match between two unrelenting fighters, Tony “The Rock” Graziano fought the champion Tony “The Man of Steel” Zale in 1946 only to fall on the 6th round. The fight was so action-packed that a rematch was inevitable. When they met the following year, Graziano got his revenge and stopped “The Man of Steel” with 30 unanswered punches in Round 6. The final chapter in their trilogy happened in 1948 with Zale disposing of Graziano in the third round.
Erik Morales v. Marco Antonio Barrera
2000, 2002, 2004
Erik “El Terrible” Morales and “The Baby Faced Assassin” Marco Antonio Barrera are two of Mexico’s finest fighters and their match-up was as much a matter of national pride as it was about unifying Barrera’s WBO super bantamweight championship with Morales’ WBC super bantamweight title. “El Terrible” won the first tilt and “The Baby Faced Assassin” took the following two. The fighters were so evenly matched that no one was able to completely finish the other.
Sugar Ray Leonard v. Roberto Duran
June 1980, November 1980, 1989
Boxing superstars Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran met twice in 1980 in what culminated to the infamous “no mas” fight. It all started when the champion Leonard took on the brash, hungry young challenger Roberto Duran. The first fight ended in Duran’s favor where he overwhelmed the champion with powerful punches and his characteristic aggressiveness. When they met the next time, Sugar Ray stuck to his game and managed to smother Duran with his speed and accuracy forcing the Panamanian boxing legend to supposedly shout “no mas” to end the fight in the eighth round. They met for the third time in 1989, where Leonard handily won over a Duran who was visibly a shell of his former self.
Manny Pacquiao v. Juan Manuel Marquez
2004, 2008, 2011, 2012
In the storied career of our “Pambansang Kamao,” perhaps the most significant part is not his match with Floyd “Money” Mayweather but with Mexican superstar Juan “Dinamita” Marquez. Pacquiao and Marquez met four times in the ring. The first one was ruled a draw, Manny took the second and third via widely contested decisions, and the fourth was probably the only one Manny was clearly winning if he didn’t get caught with a straight right hand as he was moving forward that knocked him out cold.
Sugar Ray Robinson v. Jake LaMotta
1942, Feb.5 1945, Feb.26 1943, Feb. 1945, Sept. 1945, 1951
Even if Sugar Ray Robinson won five out of his six outings with “The Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta, each fight was a barn burner. LaMotta would give Robinson his first professional loss in 1945 and would keep Robinson on his toes every time they met. Their last match in February of 1951 was dubbed the Valentine’s Day Massacre as Robinson pummeled LaMotta who just refused to go down.
Muhammad Ali v. Joe Frazier
1971, 1974, 1975
The G.O.A.T. Muhammad Ali duked it out with “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier in what was dubbed The Fight of the Century. Frazier was the WBC/WBA champion and Ali was The Ring/lineal champion. Although both were excellent boxers, the two had contrasting styles that made their match-up a unique exhibition of the sweet science. Frazier won their first match via unanimous decision and Ali took the second and last ones. Their third match has a special meaning for us Filipinos as it was held in the Big Dome in what was dubbed the “Thrilla in Manila’ officiated by our very own Carlos Padilla of “hindi lang pampamilya pang sports pa!,” fame.