Boxing looks to be regaining its legs over the last couple of years after having a downturn in attention following the departures of many great boxers in the early 2000s and the heavyweight division slowed with the not-so-exciting Wladimir Klitschko reigning over the weight class.
Now, there are plenty of stars in the sport in a variety of different weight classes, while the big dogs, heavyweights, have drama and excitement that filters down through all the divisions. Furthermore, the injection of celebrity boxing matches and the YouTube sensation Paul brothers have brought the sport back from the dead.
With a new appreciation for the sweet science, we may see some of the existing records for the most lucrative boxing matches fall.
Money Mayweather Holds the Crown
You don’t get the nickname “Money” without having any. Floyd Mayweather became a fairly big star around 2005, and several years later when he changed his moniker from Pretty Boy to Money, his stock rose to previously unseen heights. With his popularity soaring, he took on the who’s who of opponents and those matches generated massive revenue.
In the above chart from Statista, you can see that the top four highest-grossing boxing matches of all time as of 2017 all had one thing in common: Floyd Mayweather. The peak of the mountain came in 2017 with the “Money Fight” between Floyd and UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who made the jump over to boxing for this one-night event. The event grossed about half a billion dollars and the two men became set for life – as if they weren’t already before then.
What Made Floyd So Special?
Mayweather had a lot of things working in his favor that helped build his career. He was an Olympian in the Atlanta Games, winning a bronze medal before turning pro. When he started to make money, he fought frequently and the wins piled up while the losses remained at zero.
His defensive skills were outstanding to see and frustrating for his opponents. Floyd could stand in the pocket and rarely get hit, often smiling and talking trash to his counterparts that they couldn’t punch him. He had a routine of fighting on Cinco de Mayo against well-known boxers such as Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez, while also competing four months later in September.
You knew Floyd’s schedule and that made it easier to track. Lastly, his persona of throwing money around, buying nice cars, homes, strip clubs – you name it, he bought it.
On paper, Mayweather vs McGregor didn’t make a ton of sense as Money was 49-0 and a five-division champion, while “The Notorious” McGregor was 0-0 as a professional boxer. However, people bought into the 50-0 storyline and the videos of Mayweather eating McDonalds while McGregor was talking trash and training his butt off. That bout was Floyd’s last professional match, ending his career at 50-0.
Will Floyd’s Revenue Records Be Broken?
It’s tough to say because if you look at the above chart, Mayweather’s fights with Pacquiao and McGregor grossed over four times more than Tyson vs Lewis and Tyson vs Holyfield 2 with the infamous ear bite – huge events. However, there are some huge fights on the horizon and big-name fighters as well.
A fight that should do extremely well from a revenue standpoint that could occur later in 2021 or earlier 2022 is Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury to crown the first-ever four-belt undisputed heavyweight champion. Not only is that a historic fight as far as the championships go, but Fury is an entertainer who has grown in popularity with his fights with knockout artist Deontay Wilder.
As far as which fighters have the opportunity in the future to put up big fights that could topple Floyd, you have to look to the lightweight division or the Paul brothers.
Right now, there are three fighters in the lightweight division who have the opportunity to become the faces of boxing and their average age is just 23.6 years old. The youngest at 22 years old is Ryan Garcia, who is 21-0 with 18 knockouts and trains with current pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez.
The next youngest is Teofimo Lopez, 23, who stunned many with his triumph over then-No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer Vasyl Lomachenko last October to claim three of the four major lightweight straps.
Last but not least is Mayweather’s own protégé, Gervonta Davis, a 26-year-old who is about to fight for his third division championship and has a record of 24-0 with 23 knockouts, many of which were devastating knockouts. Some refer to him as “Tiny Tyson” because of his punching power and as I said, he has Mayweather mentoring him, and Mayweather knows a thing or two about making money.
Jake & Logan Paul
You may not like them and you may say they are bad for the sport of boxing, but many of you tune in when they are competing. Logan just had an eight-round exhibition match with Floyd that drew over a million PPV buys. Although he’s 0-1, losing to fellow YouTuber KSI, people turned up in droves to watch him fight Floyd.
As for Jake, he is the younger of the two and has the much better record. He is currently 3-0 with three knockouts and in his last bout he stopped former MMA two-promotion world champion Ben Askren in the first round. Jake has former UFC champion Tyron Woodley next in his sights and if he can continue climbing the ranks and knocking out these notable names, eventually he may have a chance to fight for a legit title and that could mean big business.