Are there any examples of professional boxers getting into fights with regular people?

This stems from a discussion I had with a friend: we were wondering who would win in a bar fight between a light, small pro boxer like Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, and a regular big guy. Assume the big guy is 6’2, strong, in good shape, regularly gets into bar fights, usually wins them. But has never done boxing training before. (Also assume neither one is drunker than the other). Who’s likely to win? I figured it would probably be the big guy, because the size and strength advantages would be overwhelming. Worst came to worst he could just wrap them up. But my friend (an amateur boxer) said that all Mayweather or Pacquiao would need to do is get in a couple hard body shots and, crack, the big guy has some broken ribs. Fight over. And with their hand speed, and with no gloves, he argued, they’re always going to get in a couple body shots at least. So if anyone has well-informed thoughts on that I’d be interested.

But to avoid this simply being a debate, I’d prefer if people had any actual examples. Have there been pro boxers who’ve been in fights with members of the public before? A few years ago Ricky Hatton said people try to start fights with him in bars a whole lot, but he always declines “because I know I could beat them”.

So has it actualy happened before with any big-name boxers? Surely Tyson must have snapped on someone at some point? :eek:

Did someobody mention Tyson?:smiley:

No offense, but you are out of your mind. You think that some random 6’2" untrained juicehead in a bar would beat Floyd Mayweather in a fight? Your goon would be unable to handle the quickness and technique.

I can’t imagine a “civilian” taking a few Pacquiao body shots in a second or two and not keeling over.

ETA : IOW, your friend is right.


I don’t think it’s as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be. Bar fighting != boxing. Technique ain’t going to do a lot when the fight goes to ground and the guy that weighs 80 pounds more than you is on top of you wailing away at your head. But hey, I’ve never been in a bar fight or boxed.

If they started off facing each other in a clear area, the boxer would win hands down.

Having been in a few bar fights, I can assure you that they do not occur in such clean conditions. Guy A gets mad at Guy B for some perceived offense, and a few minutes later Guy B finds himself on the floor/beer bottle smashed over his head/in a choke hold. Once the boxer is on the ground, or no longer facing his opponent, it’s over.

Also, since there would probably never be bar fights if not for the alcohol, you would have to be sure that they both had equal amounts of alcohol for their size/weight to be even- which would be near impossible to do scientifically- and still keep the rage going inside of both individuals.

An Olympic wrestler (high school & college as well) OTOH, will kick serious ass. (Given your bar scene parameters)

Sonny Liston had 54 fights, won 39 of them by knockout, and was arrested 19 times. In an altercation with a police officer, Liston broke the cop’s knee, gashed his face, and took the gun away from him.

That was fighting an armed cop. Can you imagine what Liston could have done to a drunk in a bar?

Pro boxer takes on a group of men in street scuffle:

Formally trained boxer takes on neighborhood bully/thug:

Kung Fu master takes on street fighter/punk/whatever:

Aside from the various techniques we think of as boxing (guarding face and body, bobbing and weaving), boxers have developed a particular form of strength. They can put a huge amount of force into a short motion of their arms. One thing that a trained boxer at any level can generally do way better than any bar or street fighter is to really, really hurt someone with a short punch.

I cast my vote with the OP’s friend.

More interesting question is whether two big guys are enough to take on a professional boxer. I put the over/under at three, personally.

Do cage fighters in drag count?

I have been told about a rural dance when some of the local talent disliked that some blokes from elsewhere competed with them about the girls, so the biggest of them (let’s call him A) went up to the smallest visitor (B) and asked him if he would like to take a walk around the corner to the back of the building. The bouncer (who told me the story) knew B and thought that although he could probably handle the situation on his own decided to follow them out anyway. When they had come out in the open B took his hand out of his pocket, turned around and hit A once. Hard. On the chin. And A fell like a logged tree. What he didn’t know, but the bouncer did, was that not only was B small. He was also reigning county champion in his weight class.

If Raging Bull is faithful to the truth, then boxer Jake La Motta often delivered beatings on regular people, including members of his family.

didn’t Mike Tyson break his own hands punching someone without his gloves on?

Mike Tyson fought Mitch Green, another pro fighter, in a street fight. Mitch Green got a black eye from the encounter. Mike Tyson hurt his own hand, too. That’s what happens when someone smashes their face into your knuckles.


Interesting question. I think I’m taking the minority opinion here.

My first observation is that boxing has weight classes for a reason, and not many established pros are successful when they move up in class, even though the difference is only five pounds or so.

I’ll probably screw this up since I’m going from memory, but I remember back in the 60’s there was a light-heavy named Bob Foster, who was knocking everybody out in his class. He really ran out of opponents, so he thought it might be fun to fight the heavyweight champ, Joe Frazier. Frazier was actually small for a heavyweight by today’s standards, but he annihilated Foster.

Heavier guys don’t just hit harder, they also absorb punishment better. A blow that will knock out a welterweight might just make a heavyweight mad.

Another thing — how many guys are totally untrained? 50 years ago, a big guy was likely just big from genetics, and may not have known how to fight. But most big guys today spend a lot of time in the gym, and they’re not just big, they’re strong and fast (it’s a myth that weights make you musclebound). And there’s very likely a heavy bag where they work out, and while they may not spar or train like a real boxer, they might hit it enough to get good at hitting people. And most guys learn enough from their dad or PE class or wherever to know to keep their hands up and not make big looping swings, like the guys in the movies do when they fight the hero.

Now, obviously, a trained boxer has a big advantage over a regular guy. The question is, how much weight is needed to overcome that advantage?

If we’re talking about a lightweight versus a heavyweight, the classes around a lighweight differ by only 6 or 7 pounds, so that’s enough to make a big difference among trained fighters. Maybe a guy slightly less talented, but still trained, can be ten pounds heavier and beat the smaller, faster guy. Maybe 20 pounds more, and he can be a lot less talented. It stands to reason that at some point, he can just be a regular guy in good shape, and still beat the boxer.

Maybe he has to weigh 100 pounds more; I don’t know. But I find it very difficult to believe that, say, an NFL fullback couldn’t beat up a decent lightweight boxer.

Maybe the boxer could outpoint the fullback in the ring, but as somebody else pointed out, it’s different in a bar. If the big guy rushes the little guy and traps him against a wall, or gets him on the ground, then speed and technique don’t mean too much.

And also as somebody else said, wrestling technique DOES carry over to bar fights, and would probably count for more than boxing skill.

Well, the reason I initially thought the big guy would take it is because the size difference would really be phenomenal. It would be in a confined space so the pro wouldn’t be able to dance away from him and move in for a combo every now and then, they’d be right up close. And we’re not talking about a few inches - Mayweather, Pacquiao or Hatton would be standing a good 8 inches shorter than this hypothetical big guy. They’d barely be able to reach his face, let alone punch it. We’re also talking a difference of probably about 4 stone, and a huge strength disparity. The big guy would probablybe able to - literally - push them over. Hold them away from him; punch down into their head; wrap them up, etc. He could throw them to the ground, get on top of them and start pounding away.

Nevertheless, as I said in the OP, my friend pointed out that somewhere in any of those scenarios, Mayweather is going to get in a couple of hard body shots somewhere, and I’m sure, with bare knuckles, those pack enough force to break ribs or cause serious tissue damage. So I guess it’s just a question of whether those body shots would be enough.

Thanks for the videos, Philster and Floater. I’ve seen the cage fighter one before - it’s superb - and the one with the beer-bellied fighter knocking down that scouse thug is brilliant as well. The only thing is that the guys getting knocked down in these videos don’t look like they can fight at all really, and the size differences aren’t very big (and those guys getting laid out by the cage fighters are paralytically drunk!). Still very satisfying to watch though. :smiley:

kunilou, did Liston get jail time for beating up that policeman?

Annie-Xmas, what did Tyson actually do? All I could find was that he assaulted two people at some traffic lights.

Also Philster that Tyson/Green fight is interesting. Sounds like Mitch was lucky to get away with just a cut. Although at least his face broke Tyson’s hand, so it wasn’t a complete loss! :stuck_out_tongue:

In a bar fight anything can happen, but size is often not the determining factor in such fights. Meanness, experience fighting, experience getting hit are all big factors. I can think of several guys I grew up with who were lucky to weight 140 lbs soaking wet, and I know of two in particular who were infamous in the small town I grew up in for beating up much, much bigger guys in bar fights (we’re talking 6’4" 240 lbs men who worked in coal mines getting beat on by 19 year old guys who were 8 inches shorter and 85-90 pounds lighter.)

Is size an advantage? Sure, but not an insurmountable one, and based on many nights spent in rough back woods bars, I can tell you that ferocity and plain meanness tend to be what typically determines the outcome of fights in a bar.

A trained boxer is someone who maximizes their ability to deliver punches and mitigate or avoid punches many hours a day every day, for years on end. Any of the professional boxers mentioned in this thread are the best in the world at doing just that.

Would Mayweather get killed by a heavyweight professional boxer? Yes. Because said heavyweight boxer is also a person who has been training their entire life and is at the top of the world in doing what they do. They are so far different from some average big dude in a bar it’s not even relevant.

A lot of people who are good at things sometimes don’t realize just how different people who are professional superstars at things might be. For example a lot of us probably knew people growing up who were very good at football, basketball, soccer, baseball et cetera. How many of us knew one who was good enough to play professionally? How many of those were good enough to have long professional careers? How many of those are the equivalent of “Hall of Famers” in their respective sport? Guys like Mayweather are literally the best of the best of the best, there’s a handful of people on the planet with both the training and talent.

Boxing isn’t like Kung Fu or Tae Kwon Do or some other martial art that suburbanites practice after getting off work and mainly do for the calisthenics of it, boxing has its history in bare knuckle brawls. Obviously there’s no weapons, kicking, or et cetera in boxing, but people who box professional don’t tend to be people who grew up in the nicest places. Many professional boxers come from very rough backgrounds where they were fighting in the street long before anyone ever taught them how to lace up a pair of gloves.

If you wanted to square a boxer off against a trained grappler, or person trained in some form of fighting that involves grappling, and someone who was very good at it (we’re talking professional/championship level), then a boxer would lose. But a random big guy in a bar that may have in his mind that he could tackle Mayweather or Pacquiao and try to put them in a headlock? Someone like that isn’t going to be experienced at handling the speed at which a trained puncher can swing. Guys in UFC or other forms of professional MMA are trained at avoiding fast strikes and closing in to grapple, but again, those people are the best of the best, not some random guy in a bar.

Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao could hit some random guy in the bar on the bridge of the nose and knock them on their ass faster than that guy had ever seen anything move in his life.

As someone who has been in a few bar fights, I also wouldnt discount the massive stamina advantage most professional boxers will have.

Punching and grappling is very tiring. Many bar fights fizzle out after a short burst when the two guys realise they are already bloody knackered.

The big guy may have a weight advantage. He will need it when his arms feel like lead and Manny Pacquio is still dancing around picking his shots.

Tyson and Liston brought more to those situations than their boxing training. They were already ‘street fighters’ before taking up boxing professionally and both could, and did, hold their own in many a bar fight or street brawl. The OP doesn’t spell this out specifically but there is a big difference if, for the purposes of the question, the boxer is forced to only use traditional boxing technique or is free to brawl in any manner he chooses as the bar fighter would be. A boxer can pick up a chair and break it over someone’s head just as well as the next guy. Size vs. skill aren’t the only factors involved in a barroom brawl - it might just come down to who is the first to pick up something heavy and clobber the other guy with it while he isn’t looking. For the question to really focus on the size vs. skill aspect, we would need some kind of ground rules like if weapons were allowed, if there was a formal start to the fight that both were aware of, or if it began by one sneak-attacking the other, and if so which one, etc.

In general though, a pro boxer has a lot more going for them than strong punches in open areas. Their training also makes them agile and light on their feet, very difficult to tire out and, maybe most importantly to this scenario, able to stoically get up and continue fighting even after receiving brutal injuries to the face, head and body that would probably cause the average bar goer, even a big one, to stay down on the floor until the ambulances arrived. Size and weight are factors working in favor of the bar fighter in some scenarios. A perfect knockout punch is one to the nerve that runs along the jawline and it will drop pretty much anyone of any size if it is delivered with enough power to the right place. The boxer is more likely to be able to land that punch, to dodge punches (or chairs or pool cues), less likely to fall down when hit or pushed, etc. There is really no way to predict based on what we know in the OP, but if I had to put my money on one it would be the boxer without hesitation.