Throughout the film Ivan presents himself as the strong silent type. Allowing others to speak for him and only speaking when directly spoken to. While Drago was originally introduced as the pride of the Soviet Union and praised as a hero, Drago does not seem to care much for his country. When his manager began to talk down to Drago for letting an American be cheered for in their country, Drago lifts him in the air by the throat and throws him away, revealing he only fights for himself and nothing else. Driven by his desire to be the best at all costs, this single-minded manner in which he pursues this goal deprives him of his humanity. Many viewers and critics have suggested that Drago was meant to symbolize America's perception of Russia: immense, powerful, and emotionless. This is made evident by his cold-blooded pulverization of Creed in an exhibition match as well as by his callous reaction towards news of his opponent's death.
To avenge his friend and trainer's death, Rocky Balboa travels to the Soviet Union to fight Drago in Moscow. Rocky honours the deceased Apollo by wearing his trademark Stars-and-Stripes. As the fight starts out Drago is in the lead, but after Rocky manages to cut the Russian's eye, a stalemate is reached. Eventually, Rocky begins to take the upper hand. Noticing this, Drago's promoter, a Soviet official, insults him, saying Ivan is disgracing the Soviet Union by allowing an American to fight so admirably against one of the Soviet Union's national heroes on home soil. The enraged Drago grabs his promoter by the throat, throws him out of the ring and proclaims that he fights only for himself. The fight continues, and before the fifteenth and final round, Drago assures Rocky that he will fight "to the end." However, it is not the end Drago anticipated; he is knocked out in the dying moments of the final round, and Rocky Balboa emerges the victor. After Drago's defeat, Rocky delivers a victory speech to the crowd and Drago and his trainers, along with his wife leave in humiliation.