What happens next...
Word about the fight between Rocky and Tommy quickly circulates through Philadelphia and the sporting world. Within 24 hours, nearly every civil litigation attorney in Philadelphia is willing to represent the hometown hero against George Washington Duke, alleging that Duke provoked the fight. Duke, having threatened Rocky with a lawsuit at the end of the movie, is instead himself on the receiving end of a suit. The news media absolutely flogs the story of an unprincipled boxing manager who goaded the heavyweight champion of the world into a back-alley beating of his former mentor, who is brain-damaged and only wanted to move on quietly with his life to begin with. Duke's legal team tells him that Rocky is litigation-proof, having no assets with which to satisfy a suit ("Sue me for what???") Duke ends up settling out of court with Rocky for an undisclosed (but very significant) sum to get the bad PR out of the news as quickly as possible.
The same law firm that represented Rocky advises him to get independent financial counseling, which he does. The money from the judgment is placed in a sound investment plan where Rocky and Adrian ride the dotcom boom and real estate bubble. Financially they're back on top again, if not exactly where they were at the peak of Rocky's career. It is enough to send Robert to college and get him a good start. Unfortunately this is when Adrian is diagnosed with cancer, and much of the money went towards her treatment.
The proceeds of a life insurance policy on Adrian were used to fund the restaurant that bears her name, and which provides Rocky with a reasonable income in later years. He's not getting rich by any means—even the best restaurants have a slim profit margin—but he is doing okay and can support himself and help his friends out from time to time. When Paulie dies, Rocky is the sole beneficiary of his life insurance, which is pumped into the restaurant and into a retirement account. This is the situation at the beginning of Creed and it explains how Rocky is able to pay for his own cancer treatment and keep his restaurant running while he's taking out time to train Donnie.
- According to "Rocky Balboa", Adrian died in 2002 and the restaurant opened in 1995. The restaurant was likely Adrian's doing, which Rocky took over after she died.