‘Creed’: Michael B. Jordan Really Got Punched in the Face by a Former Boxing Champion; ‘It Felt Like I Was in a Car Accident’

Michael B. Jordan has blossomed into a superstar, in part thanks to his commanding performance in the Creed franchise. A spinoff of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky film series, the movies follow the life of Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s rival. 

While working on the first Creed film, Jordan had to go through intense training to get his body right for the role. He also took boxing lessons and got in the ring with real boxers, including former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellow. 

Unfortunately, while filming one of his iconic in-ring scenes, Jordan had to take two real punches to the face from the retired champion. 

Sylvester Stallone pressured Michael B. Jordan into taking a real punch while filming ‘Creed’

Michael B. Jordan smiling in front of a blue backdrop
Michael B. Jordan | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Jordan revealed he had to take a real punch during a resurfaced 2018 interview with The Graham Norton Show.

“Sly enjoys putting me through punishment. He really does; he’s so mischievous,” Jordan said. “But in the Rocky films, it’s like a badge of honor to take a real punch. And when you do slow-mo shots, you can’t fake it ‘cause if you did a slow-mo shot and it was a miss, you would see the space and it just wouldn’t connect. So you have to take a real punch.”

Knowing the scene wouldn’t look real enough if the punch didn’t connect, Stallone talked Jordan into taking a legitimate blow to the face. 

“Sly … he was sitting in the corner, he was pacing, he was kind of looking like, ‘Nah, that’s not gonna work, that’s not gonna work.’ And he finally gets up, he says, ‘Mikey, listen. You gotta take a real punch.’”

Seeking reassurance, Jordan asked Stallone whether he’d ever taken a real punch while filming previous Rocky films. Stallone assured him that he’d taken a bunch of real punches, which gave Jordan the confidence to do it himself. 

The camera didn’t capture the punch the first time

Even though the punch ended up connecting with Jordan’s face, the camera was at an angle that prevented the crew from capturing it. This meant they had to do it all over again. 

“I wasn’t technically knocked out,” Jordan said. “The shot was: I got hit, I went down, and then the camera panned in. It was on Steadicam, and it panned in. … It was in slow motion. And the first time we did it, Tony’s glove was in the way, so we didn’t see it, right? They didn’t see it at all, so we had to do it again.”  

Michael B. Jordan had to get punched in the face 2 times for the ‘Creed’ scene 

The second time around, Jordan knew the crew had gotten the shot because of the reactions he observed. 

“So we did it the second time, and I got hit, and … I could feel the energy of the crowd and everybody that was in the studio,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Alright, it must’ve really looked good ‘cause everybody’s quiet.’ I could literally hear a pin drop in there. And I was just hoping the producers didn’t run in and just say ‘cut’ because they thought I was really hurt.” 

But the punch really did hurt Jordan.

“I was definitely seeing stars. I was not all there,” he said. “… I took a real punch. It felt like I was in a car accident for four days afterward. Tony said he only went 40%; it felt like 85. It was tough.” 

Creed 3 is set to release in 2022.