A schoolyard mentality is often at work in the portrayal of boxing in the “Rocky” films: Rocky or hunk faces a bigger, meaner thug, wins the fight because their heart is bigger and/or purer, and the opponent pulls, now humbled, back to the shadows, never to be seen again. The ending of “Creed III,” in which Adonis comes out of retirement to defeat his childhood friend Dame and solve a decades-old problem — a problem Adonis is frankly on the wrong side of — is a great example. After Adonis’ explosive last-second win, the two men share a quiet moment of reconciliation in Dame’s dressing room. The beef is smashed, and Dame’s seemingly vengeful desire to become the heavyweight champion is apparently over.
This may serve as strong drama, but a boxing ring is not a schoolyard; it is an office. Dame, no matter what his motivations were, is now not just a professional boxer but a former (albeit very brief) unified heavyweight champion of the world, having beaten José Benavidez’s Felix Chavez in a dirty, foul fight earlier in the film. At the very least, a rematch between Adonis and Dame or a rematch between Dame and Chavez would be something to consider. To its credit, the Creed series strives to make its boxing landscape more realistic, with an elite collection of heavyweights – Adonis, Viktor Drago, Pretty Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) – spanning a period of years circle each other. If we see Creed IV, Dame could very well join their ranks.
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