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Top 10 boxing fight purses including Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao

It’s pretty universally well-known that Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao was the biggest boxing match of all time in a financial sense.

Over 4,600,000 people paid to watch the highly-anticipated unified welterweight title fight on pay-per-view from Las Vegas after years of build-up and broken promises. What’s also generally believed is that Mayweather’s freakshow fight with Conor McGregor is the second biggest fight.

But betting company Parimatch have shared new information from a recent study that indicates the UFC legend’s move into boxing was actually not No.2. The Cypriot sports betting giant have adjusted for inflation to take into account just how big every boxing match in history was, including old fights from before the days of payouts in the hundreds of millions.

Here’s the top 10 fight purses in the history of boxing…

1. Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao – 2015

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao both made hundreds of millions for their fight in 2015, and after a 15 per cent inflation rate since the mega-fight, the payout looks even more remarkable in today’s money.

Mayweather won a decision that left fans underwhelmed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, but the fight was already a history-making success. The boxing legend declared that he would stop fighting after the bout, but stuck around for a retirement fight with Andre Berto and came back to face McGregor in 2017.

Since that fight, Pacquiao has gone on to move into politics, while Mayweather still competes in exhibition bouts that make mega money. They have teased a possible rematch in exhibition settings, but both men are retired from professional competition.

Inflation Value: £366,060,000







Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was a massive earner
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2. Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard 2 – 1980

For their fight at the New Orleans Super Dome, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran were paid double-digit purses that Conor McGregor or Jake Paul would scoff at today. But at the time, it was obscene money, with the most expensive ticket for the fight costing $1,000, or around £800.

The fight was a massive earner for both men, as well as promoter Don King. The rematch between Duran and Leonard was branded ‘The Super-Fight’ in promotional material, and has since become known for Duran seemingly quitting on his stool after declaring he could take “no mas”.

Duran and Leonard squared off first earlier that year, with the Panama fighter winning a decision before Leonard took the rematch, and ultimately the trilogy.

Inflation Value: £336,438,000







Sugar Ray Leonard made around £90million during his career, but would have netted more in just one night if this fight happened today
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3. Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor – 2017

There has never been a fight that attracted media attention like Mayweather and McGregor’s meeting in the summer of 2017. At the time, McGregor was the two-division UFC champion, and still had an air of invincibility even after having to avenge a loss to Nate Diaz.

Somehow, Mayweather’s own promotional company joined with the UFC’s president Dana White to create a narrative that McGregor, who hadn’t boxed since his teen amateur days, had a chance against arguably the greatest boxer ever. Over 4,300,000 people bought the pay-per-view in 2017 with illegal streaming running rampant, creating a monster revenue.

This number is going to look obscene when you adjust for inflation in 30 years, particularly if the economy continues as it is now with massive rates in the UK and US.

Inflation Value: £154,219,000







Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather’s bout was branded ‘The Money Fight’
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4. Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield 2 – 1997

Tyson is one of those names that has become synonymous with the sport of boxing after a fearsome run in the 80s and 90s. Nobody wanted to get in the ring with ‘Iron Mike’, and by the time he first met Holyfield he had well and truly returned from his shock loss to Buster Douglas years prior.

Tyson was famously stopped by the 40/1 underdog Douglas when the pair met in Tokyo, and Holyfield was given similarly monstrous 25/1 prices with Las Vegas bookies. But he outlasted the fearsome knockout artist and finished him in round 11 to put paid to Tyson’s scary aura.

They rematched the following summer, in a massive fight that generated what would be hundreds of millions in today’s money. Tyson never touched world championship gold again after Holyfield beat him by disqualification in a bout known for the boxer biting off a piece of his rival’s ear.

Inflation Value: £153,671,500







Mike Tyson famously bit Evander Holyfield’s ear during this infamous fight
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5. Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather – 2021

We’ve got a basketball player making his debut on this list, as well as Conor McGregor’s immediate arrival into world level boxing after not so much as a tune-up. But this is the most bizarre meeting by far.

Over a million fans bought the pay-per-view to watch YouTuber Logan Paul; an 0-1 cruiserweight, face boxing royalty Floyd Mayweather; the 50-0 former multiple-weight world champion in Miami, Florida last summer. The fight was announced around Christmas 2020, but didn’t materialize for over half a year, eventually taking place at the Hard Rock Stadium.

The exhibition bout took place in wacky circumstances as Paul was allowed to weigh in at the cruiserweight limit, while Mayweather tipped the scales at 155lb, indicating a near 35lb difference. The YouTuber held on for dear life throughout the contest, and managed to get to the end of the eighth round for something of a moral victory.

Inflation Value: £76,958,000







There have been very few fights as wacky as this one between Mayweather and Paul
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Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

6. Jake Paul vs. Nate Robinson – 2020

It’s now the turn of Logan’s brother Jake Paul to make the list, whose admission is all the more impressive given that it was an undercard bout on a card that had no live gate.

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr met in an exhibition bout during Thanksgiving 2020 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, both being paid guaranteed purses in the millions. There as chief support were YouTuber Paul and NBA star Nate Robinson.

Paid a mere few hundred dollars each as a base purse, the pair were paid out in monstrous cuts of the show’s pay-per-view revenue, which ended up coming in at a massive 1.5million units.

As an athletic contest, it wasn’t much to look at, with Paul brutalizing Robinson in two rounds to cement himself as the king of celebrity fighting. He has gone on to win three fights in 2021, bringing his professional record to 5-0 with four KOs.

Inflation Value: £66,858,000







Jake Paul brutalized Nate Robinson in this massive earning undercard bout
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7. Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney – 1982

The heavyweight title has constantly held an allure for fight fans, and the Las Vegas clash between Holmes and Cooney in 1982 was no different. Both men were massive attractions, and over 29,000 fans paid to attend the fight at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Nowadays, the comparatively massive T-Mobile Arena couldn’t hold anything more than 20,000 for a fight due to laws around health and safety. But the paying public made both men mega money for their fight.

Holmes defeated Cooney for the belt, and the New York fighter was really never the same again, fighting irregularly until 1990 when he was stopped within two rounds by George Foreman.

Inflation Value: £152,510,000







Gerry Cooney was never quite the same after being beaten by Larry Holmes
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The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)

8. Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez – 2013

Floyd Mayweather was often accused of cherry-picking opponents at the perfect times in their careers, and the prime example was a young Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2013. The Mexican was emerging as a major star in the sport, but had yet to establish his presence as one of the pound-for-pound greats when Mayweather faced him towards the latter end of his own career.

The legendary American often cites this fight as an example of the opposite, claiming that he was out of his prime at this point while Alvarez was never better. The bout didn’t deliver fireworks, and until last month, Alvarez never lost again despite facing essentially all comers.

Heaven knows what these two would generate if they ran it back at some point from 2019 to Alvarez’s last fight.

Inflation Value: £56,322,000







Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat Canelo Alvarez back in 2013
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9. Anthony Joshua v Alexander Povetkin – 2018

After two trips to the Principality Stadium to face Carlos Takam and pick up the belt from Joseph Parker, Anthony Joshua made his triumphant return to Wembley against Alexander Povetkin. The fight was an even bigger earner than his blockbuster with Wladimir Klitschko the previous summer, making millions for both men.

Joshua dominated the fight and was winning on all three cards going into the seventh round. There, I managed to stop Povetkin and hand the Russian just his second career defeat, and first stoppage.

The bout set up Joshua nicely for his American debut, which ended up being his fateful loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. He has yet to return to the United States, but could in the future.

Inflation Value: £37,094,400







Anthony Joshua knocked out Alexander Povetkin in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium
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Action Images via Reuters)

19Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko – 2017

Joshua’s win over Klitschko was undoubtedly a bigger fight in his career than the victory against Povetkin, but it generated a small bit less money, likely due to TV deals improving as a result of the first one. Around 90,000 packed into Wembley Stadium for the barn-burner of a contest.

The Brit was put down by Klitschko, who knew that this was his last chance at glory in the heavyweight division after being dethroned by Tyson Fury in 2015. The bout was super exciting, and saw both men dropped, before Joshua eventually picked up the win .

Inflation Value: £35,511,000







Anthony Joshua had his crowning moment against Wladimir Klitschko
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GettyImages)

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