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Biggest purses in boxing history: Comparing potential Tyson Fury comeback from retirement to Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson

Although he recently retired, Tyson Fury isn’t afraid to test the waters when it comes to how much he could make in a return fight. He is looking to get paid like some of boxing’s past and present best.

Fury retired in 2022 following his KO win over Dillian Whyte to defend the WBC heavyweight title. “The Gypsy King” went full Rod Tidwell from Jerry Maguire and told Frank Warren and company it would take about $500 million to see him return to the ring. One of the only fights he would be willing to take is a clash against the winner of Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua to determine the undisputed heavyweight champion.

Per Talk Sport, Fury made around $33.6 million for the Whyte fight, including pay-per-view earnings. Fury earned approximately $28,000 per second. In his third fight against Deontay Wilder, Fury earned about $27 million. Fury made about $54 million in 2021 but paid himself $94,700.

Is Fury’s asking price too large? It makes one think about some of the biggest purses in boxing history. The Sporting News looks into some of the top purses that have come from big fights over the years.

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Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield (1996 and 1997)

Even before Fury arrived on the scene, heavyweights were the ones who earned the most for a title fight.

Against Evander Holyfield in 1996 and 1997, Mike Tyson earned $30 million in both fights, for Essentially Sports.

Tyson made about $3.5 million for an appearance at WrestleMania XIV not long after. He worked with WWE following the second Holyfield fight. “Iron Mike” was punished for biting Holyfield’s ear and the melee that followed.

Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson (2002)

The bout between Lewis and Tyson resulted in a then-record 1.95 million PPV buys.

Lewis, an undisputed heavyweight champion, beat Tyson via knockout in what was considered the end of Tyson’s run at the top. Per Celebrity Net Worth, Lewis made about $50 million for the fight. Tyson made about $35 million, for Essentially Sports.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya (2007)

You will see Floyd Mayweather on this list quite a few times. However, De La Hoya would be the high earner in their fight.

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It was an event that earned over $135 million in revenue, one of the most lucrative boxing matches at the time. Mayweather earned about $25 million, while De La Hoya took home $52 million. The latter was considered one of the highest purses ever for a fight, edging out Tyson vs. Holyfield.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez (2013)

Against a young Canelo Alvarez, the older Mayweather was able to show that he was indeed “Money.” Forbes reported that Mayweather earned about $80 million. That included pay-per-view sales. The fight ended up with 2.2 million PPV buys and a revenue of $150 million.

The payday by Mayweather broke De La Hoya’s then-record of $52 million. Mayweather won the fight via split decision, winning the WBC super-welterweight title in the process.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (2015)

One of the most highly-anticipated fights in boxing history took place in 2015, as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fought for welterweight gold. It was a dream match that was a little late when it came to being booked. The fight was still a commercial success.

Mayweather had the edge against Pacquiao with a 60/40 split in the purse. Per ESPN, Mayweather earned roughly $250-$300 million for the fight. Pacquiao would collect about $147 million. The bout is also considered one of the highest-grossing PPV bouts of all time, with 4.6 million buys and a $410 million revenue.

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Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor (2017)

In what would be his last professional fight, Mayweather came out of retirement to fight MMA star and then-two-division champion Conor McGregor. A mix of styles and sports, these two were success stories that knew their value.

Mayweather would win via TKO in the tenth, but the true winner was the pockets of both men. The live gate for the event was about $55 million. Mayweather earned about $250 million+ for the fight, while McGregor made more than $100 million. Forbes stated Mayweather reached the $1 billion total earnings mark as a result of the bout.

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