Brock Lesnar Nearly Had Major Cross-Promotional Match With Boxing Star In 2002

Brock Lesnar is one of the few combat athletes to reach the pinnacle of the multiple promotions he's worked for. Those that have followed Lesnar's career are aware that he is a former NCAA Division I Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and a World Champion in WWE. The NFL is really the only professional sport that Brock Lesnar was never able to conquer.

Brock debuted with the WWE in 2002, two years after his collegiate career ended at the University of Minnesota, and was immediately catapulted into the main event scene. 2002, of course, was the year of perhaps the greatest rookie class of WWE superstars in history. Not only did Brock Lesnar debut, but so did John Cena, Batista and Randy Orton.

The spotlight didn't shine on those latter three right away, as it took some time for them to develop into the top-level superstars they would eventually become. However, Brock Lesnar was handpicked by Vince McMahon to become the new face of his company as The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin's time had come to an end. Austin's last match in WWE would come a year later after walking out, ironically due to a proposed RAW match between Stone Cold and Brock Lesnar.

brock lesnar
[Image by WWE]

The Rock was headed to Hollywood, so he put Brock Lesnar over at SummerSlam and in doing so, Lesnar became the youngest WWE Champion in history. Rock would return for Austin's final match and a one-time bout with Goldberg, but his primary concern was making movies at that time. So Brock was being groomed to become the next huge star of the company, but we all recall how that ended when Lesnar quit in 2004.

The talk of the sports world these days is a proposed match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor which could potentially garner the biggest purse of any pay-per-view in history. It's been presumed that the bout would take place in a boxing ring, but nothing has been completely confirmed since the papers have yet to be signed. The WWE, who used Mayweather for a program at WrestleMania 24, is no stranger to cross-promotion, and at one point, apparently had designs on something major for Brock Lesnar.

The WWE was in a downswing in popularity and in need of a jolt. McMahon was hoping Brock Lesnar could fill Austin and The Rock's shoes, and one of boxing's all-time greats thought the potential was there too. According to a new report, boxing star Lennox Lewis approached Vince with the idea of a cross-promotional fight between Lewis and Brock Lesnar back in 2002.

lennox lewis challenged brock lesnar
[Image by Scott Wintrow/Getty Images]

Lennox Lewis was a three-time Heavyweight Champion and the last Undisputed Champion. He pitched the big fight to Vince, and the Chairman was extremely interested in the idea, with hopes of bringing new eyeballs to his product. Obviously, it never panned out, due in large part to Lewis demanding several provisional rules for the fight, including no takedowns below the waist. Vince soured on the thought once he was given the provisions and scrapped the idea altogether.

There's no telling where the match would have led and if it would have led Brock Lesnar out of WWE's door sooner, but the payday likely would have been significant. Lesnar would eventually go on to have a successful career in the UFC, before spending time in Japan with NJPW and ultimately returning to the WWE. Vince, of course, allowed Brock to return to the Octagon last year for a one-off match with Mark Hunt. His subsequent wellness violation and suspension likely derails any notions of another return.

Brock Lesnar's current WWE contract is set to expire after WrestleMania 34, and that will certainly be a situation worth monitoring as it draws nearer. Lesnar made headlines in 2015 when he appeared on SportsCenter to announce that he was re-signing with WWE, so we'll have to see whether a similar approach is followed in 2018.

[Featured Image by WWE]