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As Sylvester Stallone gets in the ring (again!) for ''Rocky Balboa,'' here are the well-worn cliches that make boxing movies into contendahs

Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, ...
Image credit: Cinderella Man: George Kraychyk

No. 1 The Supportive Wife

AS SEEN IN Cinderella Man (2005)

THE STORY Mae Braddock (Renée Zellweger) stands by her husband, Jim (Russell Crowe), the real-life underdog boxer who took on champ Max Baer during the Depression in order to put milk on his kids' table.

OTHER EXAMPLES Adrian (Talia Shire) in the Rocky movies, Julie Thompson (Audrey Totter) in The Set-Up, Belinda (Nona Gaye) in Ali, Norma Graziano (Pier Angeli) in Somebody Up There Likes Me

THE EXCEPTIONS In both versions of The Champ, the boxer's wealthy ex-wife (Linda Carlton in 1931, Faye Dunaway in 1979) comes between him and his little boy, forcing him back into the ring to support the boy and keep custody.

FIGHTING WORDS Mae to Jim: ''You're the champion of my heart, James J. Braddock!''

EW MOVIE GRADE B+ (Read the review)

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