10 Best Knockout Boxing Movies of All Time

By Miguel Fernández
Published: March 2, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
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We discuss the 10 Best Boxing Movies of All Time. Add these knockout movies to your watch list. They come well-recommended. 

With Creed 3 coming up and boxing films at the forefront of the box office, it seems like the right time to rank some of the best boxing films of all time. The criteria? Personal biases, so get ready for some hot takes. Here are our top 10 best boxing movies of all time.

10 Best Boxing Movies of All Time

10. Creed II (2018)

Creed II may not be among the best Rocky sequels for most people, but it was a film I vastly enjoyed back when it came out in 2018, perhaps more than the average viewer. It may not be as good as the first. Still, I love Michael B. Jordan in this role. I appreciate that the filmmakers took the serious route approach for what could have been a very cheesy premise, especially considering the tone of Rocky IV, which was also a spiritual sequel. The emotional stakes from the first film are raised, as are some of the punch-in-the-air moments that we’ve come to expect and love from the Rocky movies.

9. Southpaw (2015)

A common thread on this list is movies boosted by actors I enjoy watching. Well, kicking off that sub-category, we have Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams in Southpaw, a movie directed by Antoine Fuqua about revenge, self-destruction, and getting back up on your feet that will rip your heart out and let you figure out how to put the pieces back together. It’s one of many examples of critically acclaimed directors doing underseen boxing films, of which few are on this list.

8. The Quiet Man (1952)

Besides watching actors, I enjoy movies; I also like classical cinema. The Quiet Man is the oldest film on this list, but John Ford directing John Wayne in a boxing film was hard not to include. It may not be the archetypal boxing film that populates this list. Still, it’s worth watching nonetheless — director and actor, at the top of their games, left the Western scenery to shoot the beautiful Ireland landscapes. Imagine a Western disguised as a boxing film, and you’ve got The Quiet Man.

7. Rocky II (1979)

This is where the list gets interesting, and the numbers get a bit dizzy. There are legitimate arguments as to why Rocky II is better than its predecessor, and I agree with some of them. For instance, the “Gonna Fly Now” scene is even better this time, which is a massive factor for me. However, for its place in (boxing) film history, I will give the edge to Rocky, as you shall find out.

6. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

The most challenging film for me to watch on this list (I’ve only made it through the entire thing once), but a great one nonetheless. In case it was needed, it was further proof that the pairing of Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman was one of the good ones and that Hilary Swank is an acting force of nature. It is not the typical boxing film, and I recommend going in prepared for heartbreak, but I will also not spoil the second half here.

5. Cinderella Man (2005)

Cinderella Man is one of those movies that is brought up occasionally when the topic of vastly underrated films comes up. This Russell Crowe-starring, Ron Howard-directed film is a great boxing film, but an even better story about the Great Depression and getting back up on your feet after being knocked down — a boxing metaphor that works for both the main character in the film and the entire country.

4. The Fighter (2010)

This one is a personal favorite, mainly because of the cast. An Amy Adams performance is not to be missed, and it’s also where Christian Bale, possibly the greatest working actor right now, finally got his Oscar. Beyond that, though, the story is also very compelling, and, putting his off-screen behavior aside for a moment, David O. Russell does know how to direct — and The Fighter came in at his peak.

3. Creed (2015)

It’s tough not to love this movie. It’s not only Ryan Coogler’s best film (though Fruitvale Station does give it a run for its money), but it also has some of the best boxing sequences in the entire Rocky franchise; it is the definitive argument for Michael B. Jordan being a movie star, and also the best performance from Sylvester Stallone’s career. It is a movie that, in a few years, will be remembered as much as the original Rocky is right now.

2. Raging Bull (1980)

For those who know their way into boxing films, it was probably clear from the beginning what the top two would look like. And if we are being strict and ranking the best movies on this list, Raging Bull would probably win the top prize. It is Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro at their finest, a classic that will be remembered for a long time. However, Raging Bull covers many topics, and boxing doesn’t even belong among the five most important, so even though the quality of the film may be higher, I will give the edge to…

1. Rocky (1976)

Of course, it had to be Rocky. Sylvester Stallone’s passion project went on to win Best Picture, Director, and Editing the year it came out and thoroughly deserved it. It is the best boxing film ever made, and practically every other film on this list would have been entirely different or not existed altogether if it weren’t for Rocky — something that Raging Bull probably can’t say. If you still haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?

That completes our Best Boxing Movies of All Time. What are some of your personal favorites? Do you agree with the list, or would you change it? Let us know in the comments below!

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