Three years ago, Sylvester Stallone couldn’t pay someone to greenlight his sixth and, he assures us, final Rocky film. But after a chance meeting in Mexico on New Year’s Eve 2004 with Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth (who agreed to cofinance it) and an October 2005 regime change at MGM (which owns the Rocky rights), the Italian Stallion is back in the ring. Without Adrian by his side.
Her death, from what Rocky calls ”the woman cancer,” is a dramatic ploy to put Roc at rock bottom — where of course he was supposed to be in 1990’s Rocky V. In a plot point inspired by a staged fight between Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali, a computer also determines that Rocky in his prime would defeat the reigning champ, Mason ”The Line” Dixon (real-life titleholder Antonio Tarver), and Dixon’s manager suggests an exhibition bout. ”What they don’t understand is that Rocky’s got this beast inside, this grief, and to him it’s not a fight, it’s a purging,” says the 60-year-old star. ”This is how he’s always communicated — through anger, through physical exertion.” And — yes! — through one last training montage. ”If he can hit this man so hard that he rattles his ancestors, then he might have a chance.”