‘Rocky IV’: Sylvester Stallone Reveals Who Won Rocky and Apollo Creed’s Mystery Fight

Sylvester Stallone just came out with a director’s cut of Rocky IV. Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago — The Ultimate Director’s Cut is a different take on the movie. But, the film could have been even more different if it stuck to Stallone’s original ideas. Stallone took fans behind the scenes of the making of his director’s cut in a 90 minute video on his YouTube Channel. Throughout the journey, he reveals some other scenes left out of either cut. These included a definitive answer to Rocky’s private bout with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).

'Rocky IV': Apollo Creed flexes his muscles
Carl Weathers | AccuSoft Inc.

Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa’s third bout has been ambiguous since ‘Rocky IV’

The third match between Rocky and Apollo has become legendary even beyond the Rocky films. Rocky III ended with Apollo challenging Rocky to one more rematch, alone in a gym so nobody else would know. The theatrical cut of Rocky IV picks up with Rocky coming home from that fight. He doesn’t say who won. In Creed, Rocky tells Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) that Apollo won, but it’s clear he could be lying to protect Apollo’s legacy.

The Rocky III rematch even found its way into Cobra Kai. Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) suggests he and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) have a private rematch like Rocky and Apollo. Drama gets in the way and they end up fighting for other reasons. However, Stallone reveals his original Rocky IV treatment was to show the end of the fight that began in Rocky III.

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“‘This is a treatment for the upcoming film entitled Rocky IV,’ isn’t that funny?” Stallone reads in The Making of Rocky Vs. Drago. “‘The film opens up exactly where Rocky III left off with Apollo and Rocky in the gym. They’re about to spar one another, exchanging one-liners. Finally they both unleash powerful punches at the same moment and both of them go back against the ropes and fall down.’”

‘Rocky IV’ would have resolved Apollo Creed vs. Rocky Balboa in a tie

Stallone had a whole scene written for Rocky IV. While it may provide fans with a definitive answer, the ambiguity has served the series, and other sports franchises. So perhaps it’s best this way. 

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“In the film, of course, I decided not to get punched and fall against the ropes and fall down and we froze it,” Stallone said. “Apollo’s supposed to say, “Did that hurt you as much as it hurt me?” Rocky  goes, “Absolutely.” Apollo goes, “We’ll just say it’s a tie, okay?” That’s the way it was supposed to go down but it didn’t.”

Another unfilmed scene explains Apollo Creed’s motivation

Rocky vs. Drago — The Ultimate Director’s Cut includes more scenes with Apollo deepening his motivation to fight Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Stallone had another written, but they never filmed it. 

‘Apollo sees once and for all that out of sight out of mind, and in a fury jumps into a taxi with Rocky and heads to the Russian’s training camp. Never did that but it gives you an idea how much a movie transitions in the writing. In the taxi, Apollo and I exchange heated words about the idealities and the philosophies and why Apollo does not want to be remembered as just a punk, a boxer. He wants to be remembered as a symbol, not just a professional punching bag, as he says, he wants to make a political statement.’ Okay, forgot about that. ‘He wants to be an earth shaker, to be the first one to defeat a Russian in a sort of undeclared war.’

Sylvester Stallone, The Making of Rocky vs. Drago