The latest instalment of the Creed/Rocky saga, Creed II, is available to take home on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K on 25th March. Ahead of its release, we look at some of boxing’s most iconic and memorable bouts and discover why they are such an important part of sporting history.
Joe Louis v. Max Schmeling (1938)

The Schmeling/Louis boxing rivalry carried significance far beyond the sport. Both men had been world heavyweight champions, though Joe Louis was an African-American whilst Schmeling was representing Nazi Germany in the ring. Their first bout saw Louis defeated in the 12th round. Louis went on to a series of wins against other boxers, but he stated that he would not feel like a champion until he beat Schmeling. Their second match in 1938 gained a lot of attention because of the racial and political conflicts that engulfed both countries on the world stage at the time. Louis won the second match in the first two minutes by technical KO, defeating Schmeling. The fight between a black American and a white German in such a tumultuous time in both country’s histories truly made the 1938 Schmeling v Louis fight one of the most iconic in boxing history. The two would set aside their differences in later life and become good friends.
Ray Robinson v. Jake LaMotta (1951)

This fight is often referred to as the “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” for good reason. In a fashion that would almost seem too unbelievable for the Creed/Rocky franchise, it saw Jake LaMotta take hit after bloody hit until the 13th round, when the referee finally decided to end the fight. The two boxers fought six times during their careers, with this final match leading to a win for Robinson. LaMotta’s strength and commitment to the match showed that no matter how many times Robinson hit him, Robinson would not be able to put him down.
Muhammad Ali v. Joe Frazier (1975)

Muhammad Ali has been a household name all over the world for many years now, and has been the idol to many sporting legends including Mike Tyson. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier competed against each other three separate times during their careers, the third of these took place in the Philippines in 1975. The “Thrilla in Manila”, would act as tie-breaker for the two men, and famously cement Ali’s place as one of the greatest sporting heroes of all time. The bout saw Ali first use his famous “rope-a-dope” technique, which was instrumental in him getting his second win against Frazier, making him the better boxer of the two.
Ray Leonard vs Tommy Hearns (1981)

Named “The Showdown,” this fight took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Sugar” Ray Leonard was 25-years-old at the time, while Tommy “Hitman” Hearns was undefeated at 22-years-old. This fight carried a lot of weight as the winner would become the WBA and WBC World Welterweight Champion. Leonard was almost universally seen as the underdog in the fight but ended up winning through a knockout in the 14th round. Leonard’s boxing legacy has carried on into the Creed franchise, as he provides perspective on how the franchise captures the great efforts and hardships fighters have to undergo to get to the top.

Micky Ward vs Arturo Gatti (2002)

2002’s “Fight of the Year,” took place in Uncasville, Connecticut between Ward and Gatti. The boxers’ physicality in the ring meant that fans were less focused on who would win the fight and instead hoped for a match with a lot of action. A match full of action was exactly what they got as both athletes ended up in hospital after the match. Although Micky Ward received the victory with an unforgettable knockout that occurred in the 9th round, this fight has gone down in history as a showcase of the brutality of the sport.