WATCH: Would Mayweather/McGregor be more bizarre than the time Muhammad Ali fought a Japanese wrestler?

It's almost 40 years since Muhammad Ali took to the ring to fight Antonio Inoki in an exhibition fight

BY Cian Roche 12:00 Monday 23 May 2016, 12:00 23 May 2016

Over the past number of weeks, there has been some murmurings/rumours/speculation that there may be a cross promotion fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

Whether this would fall under the umbrella of mixed martial arts or boxing rules has yet to be decided. Many suspect that a each fighter, fighting in the opposite discipline, would be convincingly beaten. This would be difficult to  challenge considering Mayweather would have little or no experience in wrestling, while McGregor would likely be outclassed by a boxer of Mayweather's pedigree.

The idea, as ridiculous as it may seem, may not be the first time that it has occurred.

In 1976, Ali took to the ring to face Japanese wrestler, Antonio Inoki, in a "Boxer v Wrestler" exhibition match.

Ali came into the bout on the back of his third and final bout against Joe Fraizer, otherwise known as the Thrilla in Manilla.

Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian describes the third fight of the trilogy as "the closest to sanctioned manslaughter boxing had allowed" since 1919.

Instead of retiring after that fight, having done serious damage to his head and kidney, he went on to pick up three wins on the bounce against Jean Pierre Coopman, Jimmy Young and Richard Dunn.

Then came the bout with Inoki.

The fight was a money spinner, Ali would pocket $6 million, while Inoki who had so furiously pursued the fight, would take home $4 million.

The rules were clear; headbutts, open handed eye attacks and suplexes were all banned, as were knees below the belt.

Inoki stuck to a ground game of kicking Ali's legs, eventually opening up cuts and didn't allow the Greatest to land any punches.

Ali threw a total of six punches during the fight.

The fight was declared a draw, but it was Ali who would suffer the greater wounds. Large cuts on his legs opened and almost became infected. He also suffered blood clots to the leg because of the ferocity of the kicks.



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