GAZZO: Do what I tell you to do, because it's bad for my reputation.
Even loan sharks are concerned about their reputation. Both sharks and boxers want to have similar reputations. They want people to shake in their shorts at the sound of their name.
ROCKY: I been in that locker for six years and you put my stuff in a bag on skid row?
Rocky thinks he deserves better treatment because of the amount of time he has put into training. But Mickey is a quality over quantity guy, and Rocky doesn't get his quality seal of approval.
MICKEY: Dipper's a contender, he's a climber. Do you know what you are? […] A tomato.
Mickey has a lot of guts for saying this to Rocky's face, because Rocky is a big guy who could go attack of the killer tomatoes on the old man. But Rocky knows it's true, and it hurts.
ROCKY: Like I'm a plate of leftovers.
Rocky doesn't have a good reputation among the ladies, either. Adrian treats him like he's dog food… and she knows dog food, because she works in a pet store.
ROCKY: After a while, you get a reputation. That's it. You get no respect, you understand?
Rocky does his best Rodney Dangerfield impression.
ROCKY: You don't really have to be one. You just act like one, and that's it—boom! Bing!
Rocky is telling neighborhood girl Marie not to be a "whore," but the same advice could be applied to Rocky. No, he's not a whore. But he doesn't have to be a heavyweight champion, he just has to act like one. Boom! Bing!
ROCKY: You hang around with coconuts, you get nowhere. They're lemons! Lemons!
This is good advice, but which is it, Rock? Are they coconuts or are they lemons? Or are they lemon-coconut cupcakes? Would that be a good thing?
APOLLO: Shape nothing, man. They afraid. Hell, they know everybody in the world's gonna see this fight, and none of them got a prayer of whipping me. So they making excuses so they don't have to be the chump to get whipped in front of the whole civilized world.
Apollo knows that reputation is a more valuable currency in the boxing world than sheer strength and talent is. That's why he spends so much time cultivating an image for himself.
ROCKY: All I wanna do is go the distance. […] And if I can go that distance, see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.
More than the championship belt, Rocky wants the ego boost. No one will call him a bum if he gets that close to the title, even if he doesn't get it. The reputation is a priceless prize.