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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.

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Best 10 Boxing Fights of 2016


Best 10 Boxing Fights of 2016
By: Jordan Seward

With the new year approaching it’s time to reflect on the best boxing action of 2016, so in no particular order….

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Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas

The two Mexicans treated us to a classic right up to the final bell for Vargas’ (23-0-2) WBC World Super Featherweight title. Vargas, coming off the back of Fight of the Year for 2015 faced a true, steely warrior in the 36-year-old Salido (43-13-4). It was a back-and-fourth slug fest between two champions who don’t know when to quit. In the end the pair couldn’t be separated and the judges correctly scored it a draw.

Tony Bellew vs Ilunga Makabu

The real life rocky story that saw Bellew (28-2-1) finally crowned a world champion. Just after starring in the new rocky film ‘The Bomber’ got his third bite at the cherry facing a dangerous and feared Congolese who had chalked up 18 knockouts in 19 fights. A packed crowed inside his beloved Everton football club’s stadium were stunned when Makabu (19-2) sent Bellew rolling over at the end of the first. The Everton man climbed off the canvas Balboa esque and rallied to stop Makabu in the third with a flourish of heavy punches to claim the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight strap.

Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora

This one had it all. Filled with controversy from the start these two Heavyweights threw everything but the kitchen sink. A table was thrown though. At a press conference. Which, as a result meant the British title wasn’t on the line. But after all the talk, the bad mouthing and the attempted scrapping Whyte (20-1) and Chisora (26-7) done it properly in the ring and fought out a clean and action-packed-12-rounder. Both men were rocked and absorbed a lot of punishment, but Whyte’s superior stamina was just about enough to nick it for him on the judges’ scorecard by split decision.

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Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter

Thurman (27-0) was getting in the ring with probably the best opponent he’s faced. The only man to previously have defeated Porter (26-2-1) was Kell Brook, but, in a fierce competitive fight, Thurman successfully defended his WBA World Welterweight title dishing out Porter’s second loss of his career with a 115-113 unanimous decision. Although the announcement was greeted by booing, the stats suggested Thurman deservedly had his hand raised at the end, landing 43.6% of his punches while his opponent made 35.6%.

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Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev

The fight that everyone scored differently. It was a fight we all wanted as soon as Ward made the jump up from Super-Middleweight. The defensive suave of Ward (31-0) met the aggressive power of ‘The Krusher’ (30-1-1) at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas. The American, fighting on home turf, was put down in the second round for only the second time in his illustrious career. But Ward, as Ward does, after falling behind on the cards managed to take the second half of the fight and claim Kovalev’s WBO, IBF and WBA Super World Light Heavyweight titles by unanimous decision.

After Capturing Light Heavyweight Titles, What is Next for Andre Ward?

Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz

After unifying his IBF super-bantamweight title by outpointing Scott Quigg, the Northern Irishmen capped off his impressive year by adding Leo Santa Cruz’s (32-1-1) WBA Super World Featherweight belt. ‘The Jackal’ (23-0) jumped up a weight division and battled it out with the Mexican champion in an absolute barn burner. After a hard and punishing 12 rounds it went to the judges’ scorecards and Frampton, was given the nod. Now, just for us, they’re doing it all again at the MGM Grand on the 28th January. Not a bad way to start the new year.

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Hosea Burton vs Frank Buglioni

Words were exchanged between the pair in what was a heated build up to this Light-Heavyweight contest for the British title. But when the fighting started it quickly turned in to a very watchable and enjoyable scrap. Both Burton (18-1) and Buglioni (19-2-1) continuously plowed forwards, in attempts to assert their dominance. They were both taking serious damage and in the twelfth-round Burton’s chickens came home to roost. The 28-year-old was slowing down and deserved to hear the final bell but with just one minute left in the bout Buglioni landed some hurtful blows and the ref waved it off.

Thomas Williams Jr. vs Edwin Rodriguez

A fiery, hard fought contest… while it lasted. At the StubHub Center, on the undercard of Andre Berto’s knockout win against Victor Ortiz, Rodriguez, (28-2) displayed courage, grit, determination, and, a chin. In this two-rounder, it was Williams Jr (20-2) who was landing the more powerful and hurtful shots but a number of times Rodriguez remained upright and proudly came firing back. In the end, it took a monster left hook to knock the resolute 31-year-old out.

Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook

As far as unexpected fights go, this one took the biscuit. You couldn’t have called it. This was not a fight many had in mind, but, when it was made it was all the talk. The IBF World Welterweight champion, Brook, jumped up two weight division to face the feared Middleweight kingpin at the O2 Arena. Looking in great shape and as confident as ever the Englishman made a great start to the fight. However, as the fight went on we began to realise Brook wouldn’t be making history as Golovkin’s power started to take its toll and Brook’s trainer, Dominic Ingle threw in the towel stopping proceedings in the fifth round.

Anthony Crolla vs Ismael Barroso

After prizing away the WBA World Lightweight title from Darleys Perez in their second meeting, Crolla, (31-5-3)made his first defence against the man who, effectively, sent world title challenger Kevin Mitchell into retirement. As expected, the Venezuelan (19-1-2) started strong and, typical of a Joe Gallagher fighter, Crolla did not. He absorbed some early punishment and probably lost the first five rounds. It became clear after six though, that Crolla’s tactics were spot on, as the challenger noticeably began to tire. He had thrown all he had and was on empty, Crolla seized his chance and overwhelmed his opponent, eventually stopping him in the seventh.

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