In Jet Li’s Fearless, he was Huo yuanjia, a Chinese Mizongyi grand master. It showed Huo Yuanjia fighting a large British boxing champion, whom he defeated eventually. I read that in real life, this fight did not actually happen, because Hercules O’Brien was scared of fighting Yuanjia as he had been very successful in fighting other martial artists in China. O’Brien in real life was much bigger than Yuanjia. Who do you think would have won if the fight actually did happen?
Huo Yuanjia. On a number of reasons.
First, he does kicks. Has a variety of techniques.
Second, keep in mind that old Chinese boxing tournaments had death contracts. This means he is trained to kill.
Third, he is very experienced.
Hercules O Brien
Anyone who discredits Bruce Lee is not a martial artist. If you truly understand martial arts, and I mean the concept of fighting, not about style or rank, then you would see he would definitely fare well against Huo Yuanjia. Bruce Lee was the only fighter Ali respected. He would usually trashtalk all others. But from one fighter to another, they respected and acknowledged their skill. Chuck Norris also admits Bruce was better than he was. He is not a fraud. Bruce is not a grandmaster of Wing Chun, but if you do your research, even his master Ip Man, was a pioneer in making new martial arts. Ip man broke off from the traditional line of Wing Chun. To say “Bruce is bad because he’s not knowledgeable of wing chun”, well then you’re a moron. Bruce studied how to fight. Simple as that. To fight, no rules, no techniques. Just to fight. But, I digress. To get to the point, I do believe that if they ever fought, Huo Yuanjia would be more experienced in long and close combat, but Bruce studied grappling which would be a checkmate in fights. I don’t mean to disrespect either one by saying one is better than the other, simply to be a successful fighter, you must train all areas of combat. Bruce had the speed, power, and variety. Huo Yuanjia had skill and experience, but did not expand to the ground game.
Huo Yuanjia is a Chinese hero, he defeated many enemies of China in very real and very vicious fights. He was not a sportsman, and had far more techniques than a boxer, due to his training in Chinese martial arts.
I do not know where you got your information about them not fighting, but the fight did take place… although not as traditional as one might think. Neither side could determine which fighting rules to follow, so both eventually agreed that the first man to be knocked down would lose. O brien was knocked down first.. and thus lost the bout. Its not as if they went 12 rounds toe to toe though.. was a simple contest.