Messi, Brady, LeBron. All are titans and champions in their own sport, yet none of them will make as much money as professional boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. this year. Mayweather, an eight-time world title winner, has recently vaulted atop Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes. With a career record of 45-0, the 36-year-old owns the boxing world and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
In a fight on September 14 against previously undefeated Saul Alvarez, Mayweather raked in $41.5 million in guaranteed cash. The Alvarez bout was the second installment in a six fight, 30-month contract with Showtime that will earn him upwards of $200 million in guaranteed money. This estimate does not even include pay-per-view revenue that could double Mayweather’s return. In his most recent fight, Mayweather helped shatter the record for gross revenue gained from a pay-per-view event. Showtime reported that over $150 million was generated from nearly 2.2 million pay-per-view purchases. With numbers like these coupled with merchandise and attendance figures, it’s conceivable that Mayweather earned himself almost $100 million from one fight. Mayweather’s career total stands north of a staggering $350 million, with many millions more to come.
While Mayweather has enjoyed his fair share of large paydays, boxing has not always been as lucrative for the 17-year veteran.
In 1996, Floyd Mayweather fought his first professional bout and won. From the beginning it was clear that he was a premier pugilist and future star. He, like the majority of boxers worldwide, earned modest sums throughout the early part of his career. It was not until 2005 that Mayweather – already a three-time world titleholder – earned his first pay-per-view event. Mayweather defeated Arturo Gatti and claimed his first WBC Light Welterweight title. From there, his rise was meteoric. In 2007, Mayweather moved to 38-0 when he toppled famed titleholder Oscar De La Hoya and earned his first big payday of $25 million. From 2007 onward Mayweather was a marked man. Since his fight with De La Hoya, Mayweather has earned on average $23 million per fight. With the exception of Manny Pacquiao and the Klitschko brothers, no other contemporary boxer makes nearly as much money. In a sport where money comes from pay-per-view numbers, not endorsements, he is at the top. Mayweather is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to the money aspect of boxing. He has built his box office appeal and fortune with a deadly combination of sustainability and swagger.
In the boxing world, Mayweather is known as a tactician. He is a defensive fighter by nature, often getting booed by fans calling for a more hard-hitting style. In his early boxing days, Mayweather adopted a technique given to him by his current trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather. The style is built around patience and defense. When other fighters challenge Mayweather, they are not blown away by a series of explosive punches. Instead of brute force, challengers are met by Mayweather’s tireless work ethic and wit. He will often wear his opponents down, frustrating them and running them all about the ring. In this way, Mayweather is a wizard. He makes you miss in different ways. As soon as his foe gets used to his tactics, Mayweather will change his strategy entirely. It is this that has led to his longevity. In a recent interview on Fox Business, Mayweather said, “You can’t keep going out there every fight and take punches to the face. That’s not how you survive.” Mayweather may never be the aggressive boxer America wants him to be, but he will continue making money for the foreseeable future.
Another key to Mayweather’s fortune is his undeniable swagger. He commands attention when he walks into a room. At his bouts, his entourage can include anyone from Jay-Z to Justin Bieber, something he likes to call “staying relevant.” This relevance has led to many millions in clothing sales and promotions. He is the most sought after boxer in the world. Promoters want to book him and other fighters see his confidence and want to challenge him. Mayweather, at 36-years-old, is in his prime, both as a boxer and as a money-making machine. With four more fights left in his Showtime contract, he is primed to become a half-a-billion-dollar man. Love him or hate him, no one can deny his talent. “Money” Mayweather owns the sport of boxing.
Contact Austin Cowan at [email protected]