The Best Boxing Movies Ever Made

By Rick Gonzales | Published

sylvester stallone rocky

Best Boxing Movies Ever Made

When moviegoers flooded back to the cineplexes across the country with the release of Creed III, it told Hollywood that the boxing genre was not yet knocked out. Boxing movies have been a staple of entertainment for years, going well back before Rocky punched his way to the big screen. Some of these boxing films follow the true-life story of redemption in the ring while others follow well-written and defined characters.

So, what are the best boxing movies? Here is a hint – they all star A-list actors in their prime. Let’s take a look at the boxing movies that have knocked out their competition.

10. The Hurricane (1999)

The first boxing movie on our list tells the true story of boxer Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter, expertly played by Denzel Washington. If you aren’t aware of Carter’s story, it is one of perseverance and determination. Carter was a man wrongly accused of murder who ended up spending nearly 20 years in prison. Washington earned a fourth Oscar nomination for his role as Carter.

Creed 3

9. Creed (2015)

Michael B. Jordan joined the Rocky Balboa Universe in 2015’s Creed. Jordan plays the son of legendary Balboa rival boxer-turned-friend, Apollo Creed. Adonis Creed is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps and along the way he enlists the help of the Italian Stallion. Sylvester Stallone is back wearing his Rocky fedora. The action is hard-hitting.

Rocky 2

8. Rocky II (1979)

Speaking of Rocky Balboa and Sylvester Stallone, his second entry into the Rocky franchise makes this boxing movie list for various reasons. Reason number one – Rocky wins! It was one of the most uplifting endings to a boxing film when Rocky got his hand raised. Along the way, Rocky had a child with his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) who becomes his ultimate inspiration.

7. Ali (2001)

Before he was involved in the most controversial punch (or slap) captured on live TV, Will Smith played Muhammad Ali in the biographical boxing movie story of one of the greatest heavyweight boxers ever to lace up the gloves. Smith received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ali. The film followed Ali’s life when he was first known as Cassius Clay and into him recapturing his heavyweight title by beating George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.

6. The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter is an Oscar-winning boxing movie that stars Mark Wahlberg as real-life boxer, “Irish” Mickey Ward. Christine Bale also stars as Ward’s brother Dicky, a troubled man whose shadow Mickey is trying to get away from. The Fighter, like many boxing movies, is about grit and the ability to overcome adversity. Both Wahlberg and Bale shine in this film.

jake gyllenhaal

5. Southpaw (2015)

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Southpaw came out around the same time as Michael B. Jordan’s boxing movie Creed but was not hindered by that fact. The film follows Billy Hope, a boxer who retires and then finds himself dealing with a number of tragic events. Billy now has to not only fight for the custody of his daughter but also get back in the ring with hopes of getting his life back on track. Rachel McAdams stars as Billy Hope’s wife, Maureen.

4. Cinderella Man (2005)

Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man is another true-story boxing movie that stars Russell Crowe as James J. Braddock, a man who is trying to make a living to support his family during the Depression. To make this happen, Braddock is given a chance to resurrect his boxing career by fighting a young boxer. The film is a great story about redemption in the face of major adversity.

Million Dollar Baby on Netflix

3. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Hilary Swank stars in Million Dollar Baby, a film that deserves its high place on our list. Clint Eastwood directed the film and also stars, along with Morgan Freeman, in this story of a young woman who desires to be a female champion boxer. She enlists the help of grumpy trainer Frankie (Clint Eastwood). The film won four Academy Awards, showing everyone females and boxing do mix.

2. Raging Bull (1980)

Robert De Niro put his body through the ringer for his portrayal of real-life middleweight champion, Jake LaMotta. Inside the ring, LaMotta was a violent force of nature. Outside the ring, this violent nature reared its ugly head on too many occasions. De Niro packed on 70 extra pounds to play LaMotta in his life after boxing. Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty also starred.

sylvester stallone rocky

1. Rocky (1976)

Without a doubt, the hands-down best boxing movie is the 1976 Sylvester Stallone film, Rocky. It is the ultimate underdog story that follows small-time Philadelphia southpaw Rocky Balboa who is given the opportunity of a lifetime when World Champion Apollo Creed chooses him to fight on Independence Day.

While the film was billed as a boxing film (there is plenty of in-ring action), the film was more of a character study with Stallone as Balboa, Talia Shire as his wife Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian’s alcoholic brother Paulie, and the scene-stealing Burgess Meredith as Rocky’s grumpy manager/trainer Mickey. It doesn’t get any better.