First, Sylvester Stallone will tell you he’s qualified to decide which Rocky fight is the best, just because he’s “participated in them all.” His pick: The Italian Stallion vs. Mason “The Line” Dixon in Rocky Balboa (because it’s the “most real”). But then, he tells you this little story, and not only does your already endless love of Rocky IV increase exponentially (best back-to-back training montages– ever!) — but you also kinda wanna tell him he’s wrong.
Stallone: IV was a nightmare. I mean I had never been so beat up. This man [Dolph Lundgren, pictured at right, with Stallone] was so big, so strong, things got so out of control. It was amazing. I ended up in the hospital for nine days during that fight.
Stallone: Yeah. In the first round, if you ever see it again —
You: If I ever see it again? Please.
Stallone: Well, next time you see it. I had just seen the Hagler-Hearns fight where these two consummate professionals disliked each other so much they just went at it like two amateurs. Just hammering each other. They didn’t care what happened. Blood, knockdowns, it was chaotic. It became one of the great fights of all time. So I said to Dolph, “We practiced one thing, [but] let’s just go at it for the first 15 seconds. I want you to try to knock me out. Just bomb away.” Well, he did. And he gets me in the corner, and he’s bombing away, and I’m tryin’ to slip the punches and then he comes with this uppercut in my chest, and I went: That hurt. Okay. Cut. Let’s finish the rest of the day. That night, I felt this thumping. It was hard to breathe. I went to the emergency room. My blood pressure was like 290, and they put me on a low-level flight to St. John’s Hospital where I was put into intensive care because the pericardial sac around my heart was swelling and impeding the beating of my heart. I was there, like I said, for nine days surrounded by nuns. Not good. And Lloyd’s of London said, “Ah, we believe he’s faking it. This accident is not in keeping with boxing. Usually this kind of pericardial swelling is the result of head on collisions, when the steering wheel hits you in the chest.” I said, “Well, have you seen Dolph Lundgren? That’s a truck. That’s a steering wheel. That’s a head on collision.” So they took the film and broke it down frame by frame. They honored the insurance claim.
You: And so how many days in the hospital on Rocky Balboa?
Stallone: I won’t say.