Rocky loses the exhibition boxing match in a split decision (95/94, 94/95, 95/94) to Mason “the Line” Dixon, but it does not matter. He went the distance.
Rocky’s wife, Adrian, dies before this movie, making him a widower. He reunites with “Little Marie” from the first Rocky movie (he walked her home, and she said, “Screw you, creapo!”), and plays mentor to her and her son, Steps (short for Stephen).
Mason “the Line” Dixon is the reigning boxing champ, but he keeps knocking people out so fast that people think he cannot go the distance with a “real” fighter.
A computer simulation shows Rocky being the victor if the two fought at their primes. Dixon’s crew, looking to add drama and attention to Dixon’s career, approach Rocky for the fight; Rocky agrees.
The two fight in Las Vegas. Dixon approaches it as a joke exhibition, but Rocky is serious. Rocky is knocked down twice (8-count, then 9-count) in the first round (may have been 2nd round, they went by fast), almost losing to a TKO. Then, Rocky knocks Dixon down for an 8-count. Next round, Dixon does a low hook and hits Rocky’s hip, causing Dixon’s hand to break. In the end, they both go the distance; Dixon and Rocky each earning both the crowd’s and the sport’s respect. Rocky leaves the ring before the winner is announced; he won just by going the distance. Dixon wins the split decision (95/94, 94/95, 95/94). Despite this, the crowd still chants, “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!”
In the epilogue, Rocky is once again standing by Adrian’s gravesite (reoccurring theme of and enduring husband-wife connection). He whispers “Yo Adrian, we did it,” and walks away, fading out of existence.