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Top 10 Boxing Movies Not Featuring Rocky

With CREED II inspiring critics and audiences alike, it represents the next step in a franchise that was born from the greatness that is ROCKY. Boxing has long been a sport with a cinematic presence going all the way back to the earliest days of the medium. The sport is often synonymous with ROCKY but there have been several great movies about pugilism. Here is our ranking of the ten best boxing movies not featuring Rocky Balboa. If you disagree with our picks or think we missed one, let us know in the comments below.

PLAY IT TO THE BONE (1999)

Ron Shelton does for boxing what he did for baseball with BULL DURHAM. Part sports film and part buddy road comedy, PLAY IT TO THE BONE follows Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson as a pair of struggling fighters who accept a match on short notice to fight each other. Their trip to the venue ends up being a comedy of errors that draws the two friends closer as much as it divides them. The results are a funny movie with some great fight scenes.

RAGING BULL (1980)

Martin Scorsese's biopic of Jake LaMotta and his fall from the top of the boxing ranks is one of the best movies of all time. Filmed in stark black and white, RAGING BULL differs from most boxing films in that it never shows the fights from the spectator's point of view. Instead, the ring was built with black curtains surrounding it and the choregraphy of the matches mimics that of a dance routine. Outside of the actual fights, this movie is trademark Scorsese with rat-a-tat dialogue laced with copious profanity. In other words, it is fucking awesome.

THE FIGHTER (2010)

David O. Russell's film earned Oscars for both Melissa Leo and Christian Bale, but it is Mark Wahlberg's portrayal of Micky Ward and his attempted rise in the boxing ranks that anchors the film. Seeing his brother DIcky (Bale) and his fall from grace into drug addiction is a cautionary tale that veers from his own sports journey. A great movie with great performances, this is yet another less than glamorous look at the Sport of Kings.

THE GREAT WHITE HYPE (1996)

This comedy has been critically panned since it came out over ten years ago, but I still love it. Mocking the world of Mike Tyson and Don King, this is a hilarious look at what boxing promoters will do try make a bunch of money. It also shows how much the sport has changed over the last fifty years that it is almost a joke to see Peter Berg playing a Heavyweight contender.

GIRLFIGHT (2000)

Michelle Rodriguez's starring role in this movie helped shape her path to Hollywood stardom, but it remains the best role of her career. Playing a young woman fighting in a sport dominated by men, Rodriguez lends her trademark edge to a performane that is much more layered than you usually see in a typical sports drama. Director Karyn Kusama has gone on to critical acclaim with films like THE INVITATION and the upcoming DESTROYER, but GIRLFIGHT shows that her talents as a filmmaker have always been there.

SOUTHPAW (2015)

Kurt Sutter's boxing drama has the edge and trashiness similar to his work on Sons of Anarchy, but it is saved by raw fight scenes and the intense acting of Jake Gyllenhaal. Known to dive deep into every role he takes, Gyllenhaal got jacked to star in this film. You feel each hit land and the editing makes Antoine Fuqua's direction feel visceral. You can almost feel the sweat and blood coming off the screen.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)

Clint Eastwood's drama won a bunch of Academy Awards and showcased Hilary Swank in fighting form, but it is such a depressing movie that it is hard to watch. The training and fight sequences are well choreographed and the brutal fallout that leads to the film's tragic final act is a far too realistic portrayal of how boxing can easily go wrong.

ALI (2001)

Michael Mann went through great effort to painstakingly recreate iconic moments from Muhammad Ali's boxing career and they work beautifully. Will Smith delivers one of his best performances as the greatest boxer of all time in a movie that is as much about the man as it is about his skill. The fights are an integral part of the movie and while they don't keep you in suspense, you feel every blow.

THE HURRICANE (1999)

While Denzel Washington's portrayal of Ruben Carter was praised for it's dramatic range, the film also has some excellent boxing sequences as well. Yeah, Norman Jewison's biopic is more about the racial bias against Carter and the effort to free him from prison, but this movie also offers a glimpse into the unfairness of how the sport treated Caucasian versus African-American fighters.

REAL STEEL (2011)

Shawn Levy's science fiction film was inspired by a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. When it hit theaters, it was not as well embraced as it should have been, but the last seven years have been kind to the movie. Featuring a great turn by Hugh Jackman and featuring solid effects work, REAL STEEL is a heartfelt drama wrapped up in a genre tale.

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