I would pit a good boxer against a traditional martial artist (karateka, kung-fu exponent, etc) any day of the week.
For one thing, the boxer actually knows what it's like to be hit, whereas so many TMAists don't.
There is a limited truth in this...I agree but it is limited. Where a martial artist who is adapt in distancing can work kicks against a boxer then the boxer is more limited in his tool kit. Some martial artists fight full contact after all and they have tricks a boxer is not meant to face.
I absolutely agree about the requirement of knowing what it is like to be hit..but some quite purist martial arts emphasise this too, and modern martial arts can incorporate boxing hands or full contact sparring too. This the the effect of Brude Lee no doubt. One of my early Karate instructors said straight out that boxing hands will beat Karate hands. It is basically true, yet your model falls down with the extent to which a martial artist CAN develop so many more weapons & options from their body.
I think with the sport focused or stylised elements of martial arts it means even a novice boxer will take such a MAists head off if we compare time for time training. The boxer knows heavy hitting and the 'kill' instinct and purely 'the business'. Efficient and focused to win. An excellent fist method. Somebody not used to this will be intimidated...people used to kumite get clipped in the head and wonder what is going on! MA punching air & line work is no substitute to this business end training......yet in those MA forms that work a more Muay Thai mix version of self defense we see boxing hands used, plus head butts, elbow strikes (nasty), knees, joint strikes (leg kicks of course) and longer ranged attacks and much much more vartiety in grappling situations (potentially combined with strikes).
Just to clarify my feelings....the 'modern' Wushu person I was meaning earlier could study for 2 years and get trounced by somebody with 2 months of boxing & heavy bag training....yet the 'self defense' and combat style martial artists in other stlyes can box too. I have seen how poorly a good, but pure, boxer steps up into kick boxing or ultimate fighting, if they havent developed a reflex to leg kicks they get caught, and the wrestler (like you said) can pick them up and drop them if they dont take his head off quick or know how to fight a 'martial arts' style. A boxer needs to learn new tricks. I always wince when I see people being caught by thigh kicks if they arent used to blocking or evading them. Ouch.
In terms of 'best' I always believe it comes down to the individual students skill & athleticism, schools only provide an avenue to train.
In general I agree that many MA havent taken on board the 'to learn to swim you must get into the water' that Bruce Lee mentioned but there are many many different focuses amongst schools and some of them are more purely a military style combat (even some few 'traditional' forms). I haven't seen many that could be traced to Kung Fu however, sadly. Not all students actually want to learn to maim either. It needs recognising there are elements to why people train at MA that may have little to do with oppurtunities to use it in violence. Fitness, feel good, social, personal challenge, psychology...That's not a cop out, but the focus of some schools can be quite divorced from their original roots....real combat. When mixing a MAist against a boxer then if you choose the right school then the boxer is not assured in your scenario!
These traditional military style students might face manslaughter charges if they even ever use their responses in self defense. The boxer is however great in his element...one on one & within his fisticuffs realm.
Edited by Kenneth, 12 January 2006 - 05:06 PM.