Official Press Kit Synopsis:
The greatest underdog story of our time is back for one final round of the Academy Award-winning Rocky franchise. Former heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa steps out of retirement and back into the ring, putting himself against a new rival in a dramatically different era.
After a virtual boxing match declares Rocky Balboa the victor over current champion Mason “The Line” Dixon, the legendary fighter’s passion and spirit are reignited. But when his desire to fight in small, regional competitions is trumped by promoters calling for a rematch of the cyber-fight, Balboa must weigh the mental and physical risks of a high profile exhibition match against his need to be in the ring.
The script for “Rocky Balboa” has the over-the-hill Balboa taking on the reigning heavyweight boxing champ Mason “The Line” Dixon. Both men are trying to restore their dignity: Dixon because he’s reviled by fight fans for taking on unproven opponents; Rocky because its been years since the aging boxer from South Philly has climbed into a ring.
The film opens with Dixon in the ring landing a blow on an opponent’s chin, sending the other boxer to the canvas. But rather than cheer, the crowd reacts with loud booing and hurls ice at Dixon’s corner. “Another disappointing title defense,” says the ringside commentator. The next scene finds Rocky seated on an old folding chair in a graveyard where his wife, Adrian, is buried. Seated nearby is Rocky’s brother-in-law, Paulie. Rocky rises, kisses the headstone and leaves.
With these two contrasting, emotionally charged scenes, Stallone reintroduces us to Rocky Balboa and his world, setting the stage for what is surely one of the most improbable comebacks in boxing history.
Rocky’s wife has died, he’s alone, he’s an embarrassment to his son, he has nothing to lose and is desperate to not make a third act of his life go in anonymity.
The bittersweet script has Rocky living in a fast-changing world, but still driven to prove himself, even if it elicits ridicule from those around him.
Rocky now owns a restaurant in the South Philly neighborhood where he grew up, posing for photos with fans who trickle in urging him to tell a few “stories” about the good ol’ days when he fought Apollo Creed. The old neighborhood is changing. Asians have replaced the Italians. Rocky orders cheeses from a Vietnamese vendor, lettuce and other produce from a Korean vendor. Rocky’s son, Robert Jr., now works for a big corporation. And he doesn’t have time for his old man.
Then, one day ESPN telecasts a computer-generated recreation of great athletes of different eras competing against one another in a simulated ring contest. One matchup pits southpaw slugger Rocky Balboa against current champ, Dixon.
It spawns an idea in Dixon’s camp for an exhibition bout. And Rocky, of course, is up for the challenge.
Stallone tackles the age issue head-on in the script. At one point, his son asks Rocky: “Don’t you think you’re too — ya know, old?” Rocky replies: “Yeah but ya think ya oughta stop ‘trying things’ ’cause ya had a few too many birthdays? I don’t.” He adds: “What’s crazy with standin’ toe to toe sayin’ ‘I AM.’ “
One of Rocky’s biggest hurdles is getting the approval of the state boxing commission. Even though he passes the physical, the commission still balks, which provokes this exchange between a commissioner and Rocky:
“We’re only looking out for your interests,” the commissioner says.
“Yeah, I appreciate it,” Rocky replies, “but I think you’re lookin’ out for your interests a little — I mean, you shouldn’t be askin’ people to pay the freight, an’ they pay it, an’ still it ain’t good enough?! Think that’s right? Maybe ya doin’ your job, but why ya gotta stop me from doin’ mine, cause if ya willin’ to go through all the battlin’ ya gotta go through to get to where ya wanna get, ain’t nobody got the right to stop ya!”