‘It Generated $600 Million’: Top Boxing Paydays of All Time
When it comes to determining the top boxing paydays of all time, one must take into consideration several factors. Inflation, pay-per-view or broadcasting rights, and gate sales. However, even with that being said, several fights stand out more than others, some more for the money involved than for the action in the ring.
Similar to how lotteries are all about winning big jackpots, boxing matches are about three things: titles, wins/losses, and giant paydays.
Biggest Boxing Paydays of All Time
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao (2015)
You will see one name dominate this list, one rightfully nicknamed “Money”. Competing in what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century” (not to be confused with the 1971 Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali classic), Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao would meet for the first time on May 2, 2015, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada.
Over five years in the making, the battle for the WBA (unified), WBC, WBO, and The Ring Welterweight titles would eventually come to fruition amidst an incredible amount of hype. Despite the fight falling short of expectations, “it generated $600 million” in revenue and pay Mayweather, who won by a unanimous decision $250 million while “PacMan” walked away with $150 million.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor (2017)
Tagged “The Money Match”, Floyd Mayweather was looking to secure his name in history by besting Rocky Marciano’s forty-nine-fight unbeaten streak. His opponent for the occasion would be the equally as brash UFC star Conor McGregor. A year after the fight was just a rumor, the two fighters would step into the ring at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada, Las Vegas on August 26, 2017.
Despite being out of his element, McGregor came out of the gate strong, controlling the first three rounds. However the mixed-martial artist would soon tire and Mayweather would rely on his traditional defensive style to dominate the remaining seven rounds, winning the fight by TKO. Mayweather, who was guaranteed $100 million before the fight would walk away with over $280 million while McGregor who was set to make only $30 million took home over $100 million.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez (2013)
Despite dominating most of the twelve-round fight, there was still controversy when Floyd Mayweather was announced the winner over Canelo Alvarez by a majority decision. While the fight may not have had a “big fight moment”, Mayweather put together a textbook display at least in the eyes of the 16, 746 fans and two of the three judges sitting ringside for the September 14, 2013 event.
Although he entered the fight with a 42-0-1 record, Alvarez was just 23 years old, compared to the veteran thirty-six-year-old Mayweather Jr. Before stepping into the ring, Mayweather Jr. was guaranteed to head home with $41.5 million, but after all the receipts were tallied, he pocketed over $80 million. As for Canelo, he brought in over $12 million.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Oscar De La Hoya (2007)
In one of the most anticipated fights of all time, WBC Light Middleweight champion Oscar De La Hoya put his title on the line against Floyd Mayweather on May 5, 2007. Justifiably titled “The World Awaits”, the fight would generate over $130 million in revenue, including $19 million at the gate, the most ever for a fight at the time.
The “Pretty Boy” would walk away victorious, adding yet another title to his resume after defeating the “Golden Boy” by a split decision after twelve hard-fought rounds. At the time, De La Hoya was by far the bigger name of the two fighters, pulling in an estimated $58 million, compared to Mayweather Jr.’s $25 million. The fight would also set a boxing pay-per-view record with 2.4 million households. This fight would be the turning point in Mayweather’s career in terms of big paydays.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (2012)
With the three previous fights ending in controversy, each won by Manny Pacquaio, the fourth and final fight against Juan Marquez, titled the “Fight of the Decade”, would be for both bragging rights and a made-up WBO “Champion of the Decade” belt. Whereas their previous bouts would go the twelve-round distance, Marquez ended the December 8, 2012 fight in the sixth round.
As the headliner of the fight, Pacquiao entered the evening with a guaranteed $26 million purse, compared to just $6 million for Marquez. Generating 1.15 million pay-per-view buys and a sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand totaling $10.9 million the fight would become one of the highest-grossing boxing matches of its time.
Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield (1997)
1996 brought boxing fans the much anticipated WBA Heavyweight Championship fight between “Iron” Mike Tyson and Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield. Seven months after Holyfield knocked off the champ, the two legendary fighters would square off for a rematch that made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Taking place on June 28, 1997, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Holyfield, who earned $33 million, would defend his title in a match billed as the “Sound and the Fury”. With 1.99 million buys, the rematch which was the first to break $100 million in revenue was the highest-grossing pay-per-view at the time. Although Tyson would be disqualified and ultimately lose his boxing license for biting off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear, he still walked away $30 million richer.