The loose relationship between wrestling and boxing has seen quite a bit of crossover action throughout the years. Many wrestlers had backgrounds in boxing with names like Marc Mero, Baron Corbin, and The Godfather finding wrestling more beneficial to their careers. WWE and other wrestling promotions have convinced quite a few professionals to make an appearance to help bring in some new viewers. Quite a few boxing fans would check out the wrestling show to see their favorites get involved.
We will look at the different names from boxing to enjoy some time in the wrestling world. The stories range from boxers joining wrestling matches to being guest referees to just having a backstage segment for comedic purposes. All the stories will be examined to showcase the variety of familiar names fans may forget appeared in the squared circle. These are ten boxers that got involved in the world of professional wrestling.
10 Lennox Lewis
Summerslam 1992 is remembered for the iconic match between Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith for the Intercontinental Championship. The match took place in London’s Wembley Stadium and WWE added a lot of extra fun to make Smith more of a hometown hero.
Popular boxer Lennox Lewis accompanied Smith to the ring. Fans were excited to see the hometown heroes of boxing and wrestling unite for the night. Lewis also claims WWE offered him huge money many years later to face Brock Lesnar, but he turned it down.
9 Tyson Fury
The most recent instance of a popular boxer getting involved in wrestling features Tyson Fury joining WWE. Fury appeared on the first episode of Smackdown on FOX sitting ringside during a ten-man tag team match featuring Braun Strowman.
The duo of Fury and Strowman exchanged words before Fury jumped the guardrail to confront the big man. WWE booked a match between the two set to take place at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. Fury is reportedly getting paid a ridiculous $15 million to make his wrestling debut.
8 Ricky Hatton
One of the more random and forgettable instances of a boxer appearing in WWE came when Ricky Hatton was backstage. WWE was trying to get many celebrities to appear on the show in the guest host era in hopes of getting more mainstream coverage.
Hatton appeared in a segment with Chavo Guerrero and the Bella Twins. A dart game broke out between Guerrero and Hatton with Hatton easily scoring the win. This inspired a match between the two that Hatton also won in a comedic fashion.
7 Buster Douglas
WWE took advantage of the popularity of Buster Douglas following his shocking upset win over Mike Tyson. Douglas became a hot name after surprising the sports world with a memorable moment. The WWE appearance would see him referee a match between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage on The Main Event III.
Hogan won the match as expected with Savage not appreciating the refereeing skills of Douglas. Upon being provoked, Douglas delivered a knockout punch to give the fans a happy moment. Savage was a good sport in selling for the one-hit-wonder boxer.
His larger body size and impressive charisma made Eric “Butterbean” Esch a popular figure in the boxing community. WWE felt Butterbean was the ideal boxer to come to the company and take part in a few attraction matches for a solid payday.
Butterbean knocked out Bart Gunn at WrestleMania 15 in a shoot boxing match shortly after Gunn won the Brawl for All tournament. Another match featured Butterbean defeating Marc Mero via DQ in a Toughman Match. Butterbean did fit in well with the WWE world, but he didn’t stick around beyond these two matches.
5 Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was the most popular boxer of all-time using many tricks from wrestling to showcase his charisma and personality. The crossover into wrestling would see Ali make a few extremely important contributions in limited appearances.
Most fans will remember Ali serving as the guest enforcer/backup referee for the first WrestleMania main event of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. A star like Ali helped WWE get the concept of the show across well. Ali also had a huge attraction fight against Antonio Inoki in Japan ending in a draw.
4 Mr. T
The role of boxer Clubber Lang in Rocky III made Mr. T a huge name in the entertainment world. Mr. T had a legitimate boxing background that allowed him to thrive in the role and bring it to WWE. Vince McMahon loved the charisma of Mr. T to make him an important celebrity crossover star.
Mr. T teaming with Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania 1 helped the show reach the level of success for McMahon’s vision. WWE would bring Mr. T back for a few more boxing matches against Roddy Piper and Bob Orton. WCW even booked him once against Kevin Sullivan when his friend Hogan joined the company.
3 Evander Holyfield
The legendary career of Evander Holyfield made him both an icon in the boxing world and a mainstream celebrity in general sports. Holyfield appeared for WWE during an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event for the Matt Hardy vs MVP storyline.
The two wrestlers were scheduled to have a boxing match, but MVP selected Holyfield to replace him. MVP talked trash to Holyfield for not knocking out Hardy fast enough. It led to the fun and obvious moment of Holyfield knocking out MVP to a huge pop.
2 Floyd Mayweather
WWE scored a huge deal to bring in undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather for a match with Big Show at WrestleMania 24. The natural heel persona of Mayweather was always shown in boxing and he finally brought it to the WWE world for this program.
Their match was better than expected with Mayweather being a natural in the wrestling world. Floyd won the match to keep his undefeated record going in all sports worlds. The attraction match helped WrestleMania 24 become a massive success.
1 Mike Tyson
The appearance of Mike Tyson in WWE played a huge role in the company taking over the Monday Night Wars against WCW. Tyson and Steve Austin got into a shoving fest that received mainstream coverage. The popularity of Tyson was still strong as the most controversial man in the boxing world.
Tyson joined D-Generation X for a few weeks and was the guest enforcer for the WrestleMania 14 main event of Austin vs Shawn Michaels. The memorable moment featured Tyson shocking everyone by making the count for Austin and knocking out Michaels. WWE brought back Tyson years later to once again join DX in the face group this time by hitting Chris Jericho with a knockout punch.