A long dispute but no clear answer. Perhaps the Romans knew it as they might have seen these two beasts fighting for the crown in large colosseum. But their records do not mention the result. Today, there is no place on earth which is a common natural habitat for both of them. You can not find tigers in Africa. Similarly there is no lion in Asia other than Gir Sanctuary. And Gir is not a tiger habitation. Can it possible to analyze their fighting capability and reach to a conclusion? Let us give a try. You can not say convincingly who is larger in size because size of a full grown tiger or lion varies from place to place. A full grown African lion can be larger than a average tiger in South India. But the monsters from Kaziranga or Nepal or Kumaun are good match. I am not saying all tigers in south India are smaller but the larger specimen is more common in foothills of Himalayas. Do not bring the Amur tigers to sweat here in hot climate. They are simply too large for our purpose. The basic characteristics of these beasts give good idea about their fighting skills. Lions are social animal. They hunt together but the boss of the pride rarely takes part in it. Food is total a ladies department and The King prefers to rest under a shady tree pointing his massive paws towards the heaven. On the other hand a tiger has to struggle for his food constantly. Put fighting skill aside, a tiger is definitely the finest killing machine nature has ever built. Jumping over a victim, a vicious bite at the joint of neck and spinal cord then jumping aside to bring his full body weight as well as that of the victim in play and twisting of the victimâ€™s neck like a twig. Surgical. So you conclude that a lazy lion has no chance against an agile tiger. Wait, it is just half of the story. Lions do hunt. Every one of them has to do so for certain period of time when they are ousted from their pride. Threat for a lion family is from invading nomads. If the dominant male is old or weak to take on the nomad lions he is either drove away or gets killed in the process of defending the pride. When one or more nomads take(s) over a pride first thing they do is to kill the male offspring of the previous ruler. But some of the kids are bound to be aged enough (and sensible too) to smell the danger and run away. That is the starting of nomad life of these young lions. Then they have to fight for their life themselves till they become full grown and capture a pride eventually. Sometimes two or more young lions join together. This type of bond generally continues till end. Every lions have to lead this nomadic life. They have to hunt for themselves. Actually this system brings variability in their genes. Else they would have to face the danger of inbreeding. Now give a look to their preys. Zebra, wildebeest, buffalos are the favourite items in lionâ€™s menu. Occasionally, they hunt a giraffe or a baby elephant. In India tigerâ€™s prey are deer, pigs, buffalos (wild as well as domestic), bison, gaurs etc. But we can say without iota of doubt that tigers are more capable of bringing down larger animal single-handedly. They can do the job more neatly than a whole lion pride without much violence. Indian gaurs are the largest bovine species; a full-grown male can weigh twice that of a cape buffalo. Now, tigers do not face much problem in breaking the neck of such an opponent. The forest authority of Kaziranga is worried about a new habit of the tigers there. The tigers are attacking full grown rhinos and devouring them. Tigers are known to hunt crocodile; they can eliminate leopard population just by devouring them. It is said lions are more aggressive in nature. Once they press home the attack there is no turn back from it. On the other hand tigers are more calculative. They know the meaning of getting injured in a solitary life. So they can run away from the fight if it is not that important. But still you can not say anything conclusively. There are tigers more aggressive than others. Jim Corbett has mentioned once about an enraged tiger who had wiped out a full herd of five buffalos because these buffalos dared to charge him en mass when the first one of them got killed. Very recently an irritating tusker in a north-Indian tiger reserve got killed by a tiger. Of course the tiger did not stock the elephant for food. It must have started due to ego clash when they crossed each-otherâ€™s path. I do not know any instance when a lion gets involved in such dare devil affairs alone. Many people wrongly believe that lions mane can give protection to his throat incase of such imaginary fight with a tiger. But they hardly go for throat while fighting someone of their own species. Simply because it is too difficult to go for throat avoiding the fast sweeping paws of the opponent. Both the animals use their paws extensively and vicious bites in any other part or legs. I should say lionâ€™s mane would be a hindrance in such fight by restricting his visibility while turning. Some experts say that lions prefer to use one paw at a time during a fight keeping three feet firm on ground. Tigers stand on their hind legs and use both paws against the opponent. However, it is difficult to say it is always the case. A tiger certainly is more agile than a lion. It has to hunt alone and that is regularly. It has to fight with other tigers for territory or for a mating partner. A lion has to fight to capture a pride or to defend one. First one simply does more exercise. But there is chance that a tiger may run away from such a battle if he finds it is not worth risking some injury. But if he continues to fight- I am sure the King of beats has to let go his crown.