Creed II Review
By: Kirk Jackson
The highly anticipated sequel packed quite the punch cinematically and across the box office, earning over $55 million across Thanksgiving opening weekend (Wed-Sun).
The eighth installment in the Rocky film series is directed by Steven Caple Jr., and written by Sylvester Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker.
The sequel picks up right where its predecessor left off. Adonis Creed, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, realizes his manifest destiny, capturing the world heavyweight title and matching a feat his father accomplished more than three decades prior.
Photo Credit: Creed 2 Facebook Page
But while earning the world title and defeating the champion and pound-for-pound no. 1 Danny ‘Stuntman’ Wheeler – portrayed by former multi-division world champion and pound-for-pound ruler Andre Ward, a sense of emptiness resides within Adonis as he does not feel solidified as champion. He is still searching for his defining moment and to escape his father’s shadow.
While searching for validation and seeking long-term solidarity with his longtime girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson), a new threat linked to his father and to his mentor/adoptive uncle Rocky Balboa (Stallone) lies in wait to seek redemption and their own collective form of validation.
The father/son duo of Ivan (Dolph Lundgren) and Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) is that threat rehashing old wounds and serving as the key point of the validation for Adonis professionally and personally.
What viewers typically encounter with a sequel is a continuation of the first film; an extension of the formula that made the prior entry successful. Creed II presents some elements from the previous installment, but adds additional components as well.
While certain parts of the film are predictable; early success, then failure and adversity of the protagonist, mind-blowing training montages, the love story element between central characters and the conclusion of the story ending with the final pugilistic showdown.
However, although parts of the film are predictable, as a viewer there is still a sense of anticipation because like previous Rocky films, the story reaches your emotions and you develop connections with the characters.
This is a testament to the writing and the talent of the actors emotionally luring viewers into the scope of the story. The acting across the board is great and there is great chemistry amongst the characters. Jordan continues to display why he is regarded as one of Hollywood’s brightest young talents.
I didn’t physically feel the punches Adonis ate throughout the course of the film, but emotionally I felt it as I cringed watching some of the thudding punches land. I winced watching Adonis and other characters stumble from horrific body shots and I cheered when Adonis landed punches.
As a viewer, it’s easy to relate to his pain and to the struggles of not only Adonis, but of Rocky, Ivan, Viktor or anyone in the story.
The visuals of the film are amazing. The shots of different locations ranging from the streets of Philadelphia, the sunny landscape of Los Angeles, the view overseas across Eastern Europe, the sweltering pavements of the final training area for Adonis (I believe New Mexico), the authentic boxing gyms and glamorous arenas showcasing these bouts were certainly aesthetically pleasing.
Another noteworthy aspect of this film is it delves into the psychology of a fighter and the psychological effects of fighting; the mental wars fighters endure before, during and after the fight. The negative, lingering effects it can have on family along with the importance of a strong support system.
There is an emphasis of importance towards the mental aspect of fighting; facing various emotions such as fear, doubt, loneliness, vulnerability, anxiety and a whirlwind of other emotions that are not often discussed while analyzing a boxing match.
The intricacies and various aspects of preparation for the fight; attending matters of the family and dealing with issues that can serve as distractions. If mentally unprepared, not only can you lose the bout, but can lose your life, or life as you know it.
Creed II illustrates the realities of fighting from a psychological aspect and provides the viewer food for thought.
Creed II contains a heavy play on nostalgia; as the central themes of this movie revolve around loose ends from the aftermath of Rocky IV, while similar plots are borrowed from that storyline but also from Rocky II and Rocky III.
Although this is a common trend we see with remakes or wide-spaced re-entries and continuations of a long-lasting film series. Paying homage by leaving Easter eggs, clues referencing the past and catering to the fan-base of that franchise.
But as mentioned earlier, there are themes and aspects of the film not necessarily dependent on the earlier Rocky entries that allow this movie to stand on its own.
Some of the themes prevalent in this film include the story of redemption, the importance of family, accountability, validation, remorse, depression, finding value within yourself and creating your own path.
Although there were predictable parts to the film, there are unexpected plot twists in which delivers poetic justice with everything coming full circle towards the conclusion of the film.
Even if you’re not a fan of the Rocky franchise, Creed II is definitely a film worth viewing as there are characters and situations anyone can relate to.
MGM Offers Refunds on Canelo GGG Tickets Based on Uncertainty of Commission Decision
Word broke on Wednesday that MGM Resorts will be offering full refunds for tickets that have already been purchased for the May 5th Canelo Alvarez – Gennady Golovkin rematch, which is still scheduled to go down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “In the event a fan requested a refund, they could get one at the original point of sale and in full,” Gilbert Manzano, of the respected Las Vegas Review-Journal, quotes an MGM rep as stating. MGM’s decision is yet another ominous sign as the much anticipated Canelo-GGG fight remains effectively up in the air.
The mega bout was put on hold for all intents and purposes after the Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled last week that Canelo (49-1-2) is temporarily suspended. In early March, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association informed team Canelo that it’s fighter had shown traces of the banned substance Clenbuterol in his system on two distinct occasions (2/17 and 2/20, respectively). Canelo has reportedly tested clean since that time, but the Commission suspended the middleweight until at least April 10th, when a hearing will be held. Canelo’s team has blamed the incident on Canelo consuming tainted meat, an assertion which has been met with considerable criticism.
While Mexican beef is known to contain Clenbuterol, the Commission may not be under any obligation to find the tainted meat excuse acceptable. And, should the Commission find team Canelo’s defense lacking, the bout with Golovkin (37-0-1) might well be cancelled, or at least pushed back for some time, as Canelo’s suspension could be extended. While there are many who believe the fight will go on as scheduled due to the Commission having a reputation (fair or not) for giving Canelo preferential treatment, and of putting money before all else, some well-known individuals in and out of the fight game aren’t so sure.
As things stand, HBO, which is broadcasting the bout, via pay per view, is currently behaving as if the fight isn’t even happening. What’s more, Golovkin’s own harsh words on the matter have put the Commission in a bit of a corner. Declaring that Canelo had previously cheated and that the Commission were essentially “terrorists,” the middleweight titlist effectively sided with those whose opinion is the Commission is corrupt and is hurting the sport of boxing. Such actions from Golovkin put pressure on the Commission to prove its fairness.
And now there’s the matter of tickets being refunded. While no one knows whether or not the May 5th match will go on as planned, the road has become far rockier than anyone could have reasonably expected it to.
Super Fly 2 Is Highlight of HBO’s Thin Schedule
By: Bryant Romero
The Super Fly 2 card which takes places this Saturday at the Forum in Inglewood, California is so far the highlight of HBO’s so far thin schedule. The card will feature 2 world title fights and a matchup between top contenders in the super flyweight division as part of a triple header on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs) is the main event headliner as he will put his WBC super flyweight strap on the line against former two-belt flyweight champ Juan Francisco Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs) in a mandatory title defense.
The main event is a can’t miss fight between two top operators in the Super Flyweight division that is not a foregone conclusion on who will win, which has been norm so far in the HBO boxing 2018 schedule. The fans are genuinely interested and looking forward to the event as once again people from across the country and all over the globe will be flying in for this show.
It’s ironic that a card featuring some of the smallest fighters in the world is the can’t miss event of the year so far on HBO. There was a time when the network hardly ever showcased fighters south of 118 pounds. But former pound-for-pound King Roman Gonzalez paved the way for the smaller fighters to showcase their skills on a premium network in the U.S. And with the success of the previous Super Fly card at the Stubhub Center that also featured quality matchups, promoter Tom Loeffler has no doubt that Super Fly 2 will leave a greater mark on TV, which will mean even more cards in the future featuring the smaller weight classes on HBO’s airwaves.
The times though have certainly changed as HBO boxing is no longer the 800 pound gorilla in the industry and now no longer considered as the best premium platform to watch boxing. Showtime has been giving them a run for their money over the past year and it remains to be seen if HBO can continue to produce quality matchups on a more consistent basis on their flagship network and not matchups that the public will have to pay extra on PPV.
Also on the Super Fly 2 card, three-weight champion Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22 KOs) will be opening the “Boxing After Dark” telecast when he defends his IBF flyweight title against mandatory challenger Juan Carlos Reveco (39-3, 19 KOs) and the middle bout will feature the return of former champion Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) in a crossroads bout with the hard hitting McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14 KOs) in a ten round bout.
Louis-Conn II: A Heavyweight Title Fight Comes To Television
Louis-Conn II: A Heavyweight Title Fight Comes To Television
By: Sean Crose
For those who don’t know, Joe Louis was one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. What’s more, he was one of the greatest boxers of all time. Believe it or not, these are facts that few fight analysts and/or historians will ever argue against (boxing know-it-alls are a traditionally ornery bunch). As in the case of Ali (and precious few others) Louis’ greatness is pretty much universally accepted. Just how good was the guy? Well, from the year 1936 to the year 1950, the man didn’t lose a single fight. Not. A. Single. Fight. Oh, and he had well over thirty bouts during that time span.
Jack Sharkey, James Braddock, Max Baer, Max Schmeling, and Joe Walcott were just some of the notables Louis met and bested during his notable run. Impressive stuff for a man widely known for taking out one no-hoper after another (for a while, Louis’ competition was known as “the bum of the month club”). Yet, while Louis is rightly regarded as one of the most dominant boxers to ever slip on a pair of gloves, there were men out there known to present the guy with a challenge. Schmeling beat him the first time they met. Walcott gave him almost more than he could handle. Even the over the top “Two Ton” Tony Galento had Louis briefly taste the mat.
One fighter that gave Louis more trouble than the man could have possibly imagined, though, was Billy Conn. A product of Pittsburgh, Conn had a less than terrific start as a boxer, before finally getting the hang of things and collecting a whole lot of wins for himself. After winning and defending the light heavyweight title, however, Conn decided to go for greatness and take on Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world. It was a bold and daring move. Louis wasn’t just any heavyweight, after all. And besides, moving up to take the biggest prize in sports against a bigger man (Louis would outweigh Conn by at least twenty pounds)was a daunting challenge in and of itself.
Yet Conn almost pulled it off. Meeting Louis at New York’s Polo Grounds on the evening of June 18th, 1941, Conn employed incredible boxing skills to frustrate Louis and avoid the impact of the champions’ frightening power punches. Not only was Conn proving to be the great Louis’ equal – he was handily beating the man. Then came the thirteenth round. The slick, slippery Conn decided to play tough guy after surprisingly hurting his opponent. Yet the results of Conn’s hubris were entirely predictable…Louis ended up winning by knockout that very round. The story, however, wasn’t over. After the Second World War, which saw both Conn and Louis serving in the military, the two fighters were to meet again, on June 19th, 1946, at Yankee Stadium.
A lot of time passed since the first fight, however, and the world had changed in incredibly dramatic ways. The United States, previously seen as a kind of marginalized, movie making nation where poor people were apt to move, was, as a result of the war, now the world’s great power, deeply engaged in a “cold war” with the Soviet Union for the direction of civilization (hard to believe, but true). What’s more, American life itself had changed since Louis and Conn had first squared off. Television, which had been around for years, was about to really take hold with the American public. And boxing was to become one of the young medium’s prime attractions.
And what better way to bring boxing to tv fans than to broadcast a live rematch between the great “Brown Bomber” and his slippery foe?
Unfortunately, the second fight wasn’t nearly as thrilling as the first. “He can run, but he can’t hide,” Louis claimed beforehand, in perhaps the first utterance from a fighter that absorbed itself into everyday language. Louis was right. He was able to end Conn’s second attempt at glory in the eighth round. Conn’s big moment had passed, having slipped into the vapor of time half a decade and a full historical era earlier. Still, the rematch between Louis and Conn served it’s purpose, bringing a heavyweight title fight to a groundbreaking new medium. Make no mistake about it, boxing is still living in the shadow of that long ago night in New York