Surprising as it may seem considering the difference between these two combat sports, boxing and wrestling have actually crossed paths many times. Fighters from both disciplines have discovered the urge to test their skills in the other, leading to some of the most unlikely bouts in combat sports.
YouTube Celebrity versus Former MMA Star
As the latest meeting of boxing against wrestling, online celebrity Jake Paul will be fighting Ben Askren, who started out as a champion wrestler before becoming a welterweight champion in MMA. Known as ‘Funky’ by fans, Ben Askren won various collegiate titles and represented the US Olympic freestyle wrestling teams, then turned professional in Bellator and the ONE Championship.
Scheduled for April 17 at the Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, this is one bout that has really captured the imagination and is expected to attract an online audience of millions. Ahead of the event, Jake Paul vs Ben Askren odds are so close, this could be a boxing match that goes either way. Jake Paul has two KO wins from his first two fights, while Ben Askren will be debuting as a professional boxer.
What makes this fight all the more interesting, is that some boxing experts doubt the punching ability of 36-year-old Ben Askren, who is more famed for his wrestling skills and, in particular, grappling. Nevertheless, he will be the toughest opponent Jake Paul has yet faced, having previously beaten other online celebrities, including gaming streamer AnEsonGib and basketball player Nate Robinson.
Japanese Wrestler Battles The Greatest
What happens when you pit the greatest wrestler in Japan, against the greatest heavyweight boxing champion the world has ever known? You get an unlikely bout between Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali. Fought under special rules at the Nippon Arena, Yokohama, Japan, nobody knew quite what to expect from this 1976 bout, which was broadcast around the world. Even today, this is regarded by some as the first true professional MMA fight.
Ali had been taught catch wrestling by legendary wrestler Karl Gotch in preparation, during a period when he was keen to test himself in other martial arts. Unfortunately, the bout with Inoki ended up turning into a farce, with the Japanese wrestler kicking the legs of Ali more than 100 times, while the boxer landed just six punches. The final outcome was called a draw after fifteen rounds of crazy antics.
Floyd Mayweather KOs Giant WWE Star
WrestleMania XXIV in 2008 was headlined by a remarkable encounter at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Billed as “The Biggest vs The Best” and surrounded by hype, it was unbeaten boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Big Show of WWE fame, in an eagerly anticipated No Disqualification match. Despite the fact that Big Show stood more than 16 inches taller, the boxer won the fight and broke the nose of his rival.
However, much of what happened in the exhibition fight was pre-planned, part of a storyline that features regularly in WWE. This included Floyd Mayweather Jr. breaking the nose of Big Show and victory for the boxer. Still, fans were happy as the event attracted a record attendance at the venue, along with millions of dollars from the PPV audience worldwide.
So, there you have it. Three strange meetings of two distinct disciplines. Although boxing and wrestling are worlds apart, their paths have crossed many times, which will no doubt continue, and capture our full attention.