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Home » ESPN blasted for ‘treating Rocky Balboa as real’ and ignoring rival bouts

ESPN blasted for ‘treating Rocky Balboa as real’ and ignoring rival bouts

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Broadcasters at ESPN took heat over the weekend as fictional boxer Rocky Balboa celebrated the 36th anniversary of Rocky IV getting released.

As they do each year, ESPN earmarked a special mention for Balboa’s clash with Russian juggernaut Ivan Drago. It’s a similar story on Christmas day when the fight took place in the movie.

Taking to social media with a photo of the film spectacular and Hollywood hit, ESPN said: “36 years ago today, Rocky IV was released.

“Rocky Balboa shocked the world, knocking out Ivan Drago in the 15th round.”

Now, anyone without a vested interest would go along with that fact and see it for what it is, simply a nod to a great franchise. But not Showtime Boxing boss Stephen Espinoza.

Irked that ESPN certainly offers little coverage to some fights on the rival Showtime brand, the Floyd Mayweather event organizer let rip.


He didn’t hold back.

“Stop treating Rocky Balboa [and] Sylvester Stallone as a real boxer,” urged Espinoza.

“Especially when you give a fictional fight in a 36-year-old movie more attention than tonight’s high-quality, intriguing – and very much real-life – Figueroa vs. Fulton. A world title unification fight.”

ESPN’s post came just hours before Brandon Figueroa and Stephen Fulton engaged in one of the year’s best fights. It happened on the same night Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos did similarly.

It was a spectacular night for boxing, which Espinoza thinks ESPN didn’t dedicate enough time to in the run-up.

Rocky Balboa Rocky IV director's cut

Rocky IV took the box office by storm in 1985 on the back of a triple whammy of incredible movies released by Stallone. This month, a director’s cut of the film hit theaters with extra minutes added by Stallone.

Again, the release got rave reviews.

The only downside to the initial success of Rocky IV was that the money generated gave the green light to deeply-panned Rocky V.

‘Sly’ himself admitted he wishes that movie wasn’t part of the journey.

Nonetheless, Stallone came back swinging with Rocky Balboa – The Movie and has launched another spin-off series in Creed.

However, it isn’t very likely Adonis Creed vs. Ricky Conlan would be afforded the same treatment from ESPN at any point in the future.

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