If you are a fan of the Rocky Movies like I am, you would've wanted to see this fight happen, and I know it would have been a classic. The problem is that it never did, and now with Creed 3 on the horizon, the only chance we may get to see these two boxing movie icons clash is via their sons in a Creed Trilogy.
Now, if you haven't heard of the Rocky franchise, you have been living under a rock. Just kidding, let's go over it briefly. I'm only going to recap Rocky 1-4 because those four movies explain why Apollo and Clubber should have fought. Creed 1 and 2 make a case for the sons fighting and redeeming the legacies, and I will check in on that later.
Rocky is the story of an underdog boxer who gets a shot to fight the heavyweight boxing champ of the world. Apollo Creed. Apollo has run out of opponents, and because of this, he's losing fans and money. Apollo and his camp come up with a gimmick to take a random fighter from the slums and give him a shot at the heavyweight title. This boxer turns out to be Rocky Balboa, and instead of putting on a show for the fans and stroking Apollo's ego, Rocky almost beats Apollo.
Rocky II focuses on the rematch with Apollo Creed. Rocky has a little money, a little fame, and a family now. His eye was battered in the fight, and retirement was recommended by his new wife Adrian and everyone around him. He is somewhat content. On the other hand, Apollo is embarrassed that he almost lost to a "nobody," and now his reputation is tarnished. Apollo demands a rematch and, after insulting Rocky's ego enough, gets it. Rocky also has an unknown reason to fight. His wife Adrian is pregnant, and he can't get good work due to his criminal record and illiteracy. He doesn't want to go back to working for the mob, so he accepts the fight against his wife Adrian's wishes. Adrian worked ago to make ends meet at her old job, has a stress-induced pregnancy, and goes into a coma. He wakes up and tells Rocky to go "win" the fight. This time Rocky beats Apollo and becomes heavyweight champ of the world!
Rocky III picks up with Rocky enjoying being the champ. He is famous; he's rich, has his family, and still the Heavyweight champion of the world.
Until Clubber Lang challenges him. Clubber Lang is a heavy-hitting, hard-nosed slugger from Chicago who is unbeaten and unimpressed by Rocky Balboa. Rocky sees him as just another fighter and doesn't see a problem fighting him. His trainer Micky sees Clubber as a problem, and he reveals to Rocky that his fights have been handpicked to keep his champion. Rocky doesn't like this at all, so he agrees to the battle against Micky's wishes. He eventually talks Micky into agreeing to train him and vows that it would be his last fight. Rocky has a newly lavish lifestyle and a new gym to train in. He lost his killer instinct and fought night. He is knocked out in only the 2nd round by Clubber Lang. Before the fight began, an altercation almost broke out between Clubber and Apollo, which shows signs that Clubber would have fought Apollo right after Rocky to prove he was the best in the world. He didn't get that chance. Apollo was so offended by Clubber's disrespect he joined forces with Rocky. Taught him his style of fighting, and Rocky beat Clubber in the rematch. There should have been a third fight, but I will go over that more later.
Rocky IV starts where Rocky III ends. Rocky agrees to give Apollo a third fight. In private. (He admits Apollo won later on in the franchise. Creed.) The two are now friends. Rocky retires the champ (even though he didn't give Clubber a third fight but gave his new friend a third fight in private, but ugh... whatever.) A new Russian fighter named Ivan Drago beats everyone, and Apollo is offended that he is making America look bad. Apollo is still not done with boxing, and I guess after redeeming himself against Rocky in private and showing that his training methods work against a ring warrior like Clubber Lang, he was feeling himself. He challenges Drago to an exhibition match. He is he's killed in the ring. Rocky was in his corner and never threw in the towel, even though he should have, but Apollo told him no, so it was a big dilemma that ended with the death of his friend.
Side note. Clubber Lang is still not offered a third fight. Instead, Apollo and Rocky dance off into the sunset and choose to fight a Russian in an exhibition match.
Back to Rocky. Rocky is heartbroken and stricken with guilt by the death of his friend. He chooses to fight Ivan Drago and avenge his best friend. Rocky travels to Russia. Trains with Apollo's trainer Duke. Grows a beard. He fights a hard battle with Drago and wins, restoring the world's respect for American boxers and avenging Apollo's death.
He still hasn't given Clubber a third fight, and now with Apollo dead, there will never be a chance for Clubber vs. Apollo.
Unless. Their son's fight. (Check out my fan trailer below for Creed 3 at the end.)
Now back to the original question. Who would have won the fight between Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang? Let's remove Rocky IV from our memory and say that Rocky fights Clubber a third time. Rocky gets beat and retires, and Clubber calls out Apollo Creed. That fight would have been similar to Ali vs. Frasier.
Let's breakdown the fighters based on strengths and weaknesses.
Apollo Creeds Strengths:
- Speed & Agility
- Head movement (he's tough to hit)
- He's taller with a little more reach.
- Experience (he's older than Clubber)
Apollo Creeds Weaknesses:
- Susceptible to body damage (Rocky killed him inside.)
- Showboats too much
- Can become prideful when he is losing (which eventually got him killed in the ring.)
Clubber Lang's Strengths:
- Power & Speed
- Strong Chin (he's hard to knock down)
- Offensive Footwork (he can cut off the ring and set up big shots.)
- Emotional (he lets people get in his head.)
Now when breaking down the stats, Clubber has fewer weaknesses but fewer weapons as well. Both fighters fight off emotion, which can lead to an early slugfest, resulting in a first or second-round knockout for either one of them. If it goes, the distance Apollo will win on points, but it's a slim chance the fight would go the distance with Clubbers history of finishing opponents early. Neither one of them will take a loss well, so this matchup will go at least three fights, with the last one being the end of both of their careers.
This would have been a battle to see, and that would have been a great way to set up a Creed franchise to go alongside Rocky. Rocky IV still was epic, and that movie was great, but a quick spinoff of Apollo Creed vs. Clubber Lang would have been an epic story.