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Rocky 2’s biggest twist happened because Stallone injured himself

A serious injury to Sylvester Stallone's right pectoral muscle caused last-minute changes in the final fight against Apollo Creed in Rocky II

Rocky II

Sylvester Stallone views getting injured on the job as a good omen – “whenever I don’t get injured, the film is a dud.” Fortunately, he has suffered plenty of injuries in his career, not least on the Rocky movies. One such injury led to the surprising twist in the match against Apollo Creed at the end of Rocky II.

In the film, Rocky spends much of the run-time reluctant to return to boxing because he has a detached retina. Due to financial problems, he eventually does go back, but in order to protect his eye, he opts to fight right-handed instead of his usual southpaw. In the final round, he switches back and in dramatic fashion, turns the tide against Creed.

In the match against Apollo Creed, he comes out orthodox (right-handed) and Mickey intends for him to switch back to southpaw late in the last round, but Balboa refuses, saying “no tricks, I ain’t switching.” Mickey tells him that Apollo is ready for him (if he continues using his right) and so towards the end of the round, he does indeed lead with his left. The real reason for this is Sylvester Stallone tore his right pectoral muscles in training.

In an interview with The Week from 2015, Stallone gave some context to what was going on behind-the-scenes. During filming, he suffered a near complete rupture of his right pectoral muscle and had to have it surgically reattached. “I had 160 stitches under my right arm. That’s why Rocky fights left-handed in that film, because I couldn’t use my right.”

Stallone was also seriously injured on Rocky IV when Dolph Lundgren landed such a massive blow to his chest that the tissue around his heart began to swell, and he was hospitalised for seven days, via IndieWire; “[Lundgren] pulverised me. And I didn’t feel it in the moment but later that night my heart started to swell. My blood pressure went up to 260 and I was going to be talking to angels. Next thing I know I’m on this emergency, low-altitude flight. I’m in intensive care surrounded by nuns and then after that, I had to go back and finish the fight.”

Find out everything we know about Creed 3 so far.