As a boxing fan I've always been interested in this topic. Love boxing... love movies. But when a movie is about boxing the least I expect are credible fight scenes, which includes actors that are a) in reasonable shape, b) have seriously trained, like they immerse themselves in any other character, and c) are accompanied by skillful production and camerawork. A good plot, acting, and storyline all help... 'cause it makes the movie attractive to even those who aren't boxing fans.
The following list is from the link above. I omitted bareknuckle street fighting entries like Tom Cruise (Far and Away) and Clint Eastwood (Every Which Way But Loose), 'cause I'm only including boxing here. I also omitted entries from before "Rocky", because in all honesty back then fight scenes were horribly fake and not worth the mention. The list also excludes real, professional fighters from the list, because those would be boxers who acted.... not actors who boxed.
So their list is:
1. Michael B. Jordan (Creed, 2015)
2. Jake Gyllenhall (Southpaw, 2015)
3. Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, 2010)
4. Adam Carolla (The Hammer, 200
5. Hillary Swank (Million Dollar Baby, 2004)
6. Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man, 2005)
7. Will Smith (Ali, 2001)
8. Michelle Rodriguez (GirlFight, 2000)
9. Denzel Washington (The Hurricane, 1999)
10. Daniel Day-Lewis (The Boxer, 1997)
11. Louis Gossett (Diggstown, 1992)
12. Robert DeNiro (Raging Bull, 1980)
13. Ryan O’Neal (The Main Event, 1979)
14. Jon Voight (The Champ, 1979)
15. Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, 1976)
My first reaction was... where the hell is Carl Weathers? The list is faulty, because it only covers the main character in each of the films. But IMO, Weathers as Apollo Creed deserves a mention in there, probably at #3 (below Gyllenhall and above Wahlberg). Which of course brings to mind all the other supporting actors who boxed with the main characters. There are probably a few in there that fell through the cracks.
My thoughts on the list?
I think Russell Crowe could've been bumped up a couple of notches, whereas Ryan O'Neal and Sylvester Stallone (sorry, Rocky fans) are lucky to have been on the list at all. "Yo Adrian" was an epic movie and tear-jerker for some... but GTFOOF here with trying to make him look like a real boxer.... LMAO.
I think it's also odd (but maybe not surprising) that the quality of "acting boxing" and fight scenes in general has improved over the years. The list is pretty much in chronological order. Which of course would bode well for future boxing films.
I'm not saying boxing will necessarily get new fans out of a boxing movie.... but if a movie is going to be about boxing the least we should expect is for the fighters themselves and the fight scenes to be as credible as possible, right?