To make it in professional boxing you need strength, speed, stamina and some serious box-office pulling power. There’s big money to be made and the fighters, coaches, promoters, casinos, sponsors and box-office networks are all receiving paydays of more money than any average person will ever make in their entire lives.
May 2015 witnessed the highest grossing pay-per-view in history; Mayweather vs Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas generated 4.4 million paid views (almost double the last record of 2.4 million for Mayweather vs De La Hoya in 2007) which pulled in more than $400 million in revenue. Live ticket sales came to $71 million, which goes without mentioning was quite a pay day for everyone involved.
Although boxers can make fortunes; they aren’t always known as the best financial investors. Mike Tyson earned more than $300 million throughout his career but after blowing all his money on excess purchases such as sports cars and tigers – he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
Collectively the sporting legends on this list are worth billions; here’s hoping they hold on to their money and invest wisely because these net worths would be a phenomenal amount to blow.
10. Bernard Hopkins – $40 million
At 46-years-old; Philadelphia born Bernard Hopkins became the oldest boxer in the world to win a world title with a 12-round decision against Jean Pascal in 2011. He gained himself the nickname “The Executioner” and he has defended his world middleweight title 20 times. His fight record is 55(32KO)-7-2.
Hopkins has managed his money very well outside of the ring, he has invested in real estate, government bonds and he owns a share in Golden Boy Promotions which was started by world champion Oscar De La Hoya; Hopkins KO’d De La Hoya in 2004.
The Philadelphia born legend has a good attitude when it comes to money and he mentioned in an interview two years ago that he has seen many people lose their own fortunes over the years:
“I’ve seen a lot of broke people who had wealth around me and I paid attention. I know where I came from. I know where my six siblings came from. I know how my mother struggled. It’s easy to forget those things when you’ve been successful for a long time. But I was skillful enough and smart enough to remind myself from where I came. That’s the reality check that should keep anybody motivated. We choose which way we go”.
9. Marvin Hagler – $45 million
Former American boxer, Marvin Hagler, had his name secured in the International Boxing Hall of Fame after becoming the Undisputed World Middleweight Champion from 1980 to 1987. He is well known around the world as the “Marvellous Marvin Hagler” after he legally changed his name to this title so reporters would have to refer to him as “Marvellous”.
His fight record is 62(52KO)-3-2 and he turned his success into a Hollywood career after starring in many action movies. He took on roles as a US Marine in the Italian series Indio (1989) and Indio 2 (1991). In 1996 he started in Virtual Weapon and also provided boxing commentary for British TV. Even today he is well paid as an occasional after-dinner speaker and is a regularly a booked guest appearance at sporting events.
Hagler said in an interview that he also knew he was destined to be a champion in the ring. He told BobPaceBoxing.com:
“Boxing has always been a love of mine. I think I was born basically to be a fighter […] In the boxing game you don’t have to be tall or short, boxing was perfect for me because size didn’t matter and I was really good at it”.
8. Vitali Klitschko – $65 million
Vitali Klitschko retired from heavyweight boxing in 2013 and then went on to become a Ukrainian politician; he is the current Mayor of Kiev and head of the Kiev City State Administration. Klitschko said of his decision: “My focus is on politics in Ukraine and I feel the people there need me”.
Before he retired and gave up his nickname “Dr. Ironfist” his fight record was 45 (41KO)-2-0. He was surrounded by controversy throughout his career after he was accused of working as a debt collector for mafia boss Viktor Rybalko throughout the 1990s; these are claims that Klitschko has consistently denied.
He still uses his fighting mentality in his politics as he said of his tactics as Mayor of Kiev:
“In order to land a punch, you need to bring your fingers together into a fist. We need to join all of our forces together. That is the only way that we can win”.
7. Muhammad Ali – $80 million
Muhammad Ali needs no introduction as he was given the nickname “The Greatest” for holding the first and only World Heavyweight Champion three times in a row. His fights with George Foreman and Joe Frazier have been recognised as the greatest boxing matches of all time. His fight record is 56(37KO)-5-0.
Now retired from the ring he is a social activist and philanthropist, he also suffers from Parkinson’s Disease which is common in long-term boxers who have suffered head traumas throughout their careers. Over the past few decades he has been one of the most depicted sports legends in popular culture; The Greatest (1977) and Ali (2001), which starred Will Smith, are two full length movies about the star.
He is also well known for this famous speeches which are often used as motivational quotes. One of his most notable speeches is:
“I’ve wrestled with alligators, I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning and throw thunder in jail. You know I’m bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock. Injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick”.
6. Sugar Ray Leonard – $120 million
Sugar Ray Leonard, born Ray Charles Leonard, was the first boxer to earn more that $100 million in purses; he won five world titles and he retired in the 1980s with the accolade “Boxer of the Decade”. His boxing record was 36(25KO)-3-1.
In 2011 he released an autobiography titled The Big Fight: My Life in and out of the Ring where he revealed that he was a sexual abuse victim. Leonard claimed he was abused by an unnamed Olympic trainer and he has given many public speeches about child sex abuse in hopes to encourage others to report their abuse.
In 2007 he received The Ambassador Award of Excellence from the LA Sports & Entertainment Commission which thanked him for his continued positive influence on youth and his ongoing involvement in local communities.
5. Lennox Lewis – $140 million
Lennox “The Lion” Lewis is the former world heavyweight boxing champion and the London-born, 6 foot 5″, sporting legend won $84 million from fights throughout his 14 year career. His fight record is 41 (32KO)-2-1 and some of those wins were against Evander Holyfield, Vitali Klitschko and Mike Tyson. He also took home a gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games.
In 2002, Lewis was reportedly offered £5m by WWE chairman Vince McMahon to begin professional wrestling; he would have been 36-years-old. There was apparently a lot of discussions about a possible match between Lewis and Brock Lesnar and it run as a pay-per-view event; however Lewis did not decide to change his career from a professional boxer to wrestler. He commented on the end of his career: “I have been in there with all of them and there is nothing left for me to prove”.
4. Oscar De La Hoya – $200 million
Oscar De La Hoya‘s fight record is 39 (30KO)-6-0 and he bought home gold in the 1992 Olympic Games. He is best known for defeating 17 world champions in six different weight classes including Julio Cesar Chavez.
De La Hoya is also a huge box-office spinner as he has generated more revenue than any other boxer in history and his fights have been estimated at a $700 million pay-per-view income. He founded Golden Boy promotions which made him the first American of hispanic descent to own a national boxing promotional firm; his partners are Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright and Ricky Hatton.
He released his first album, Oscar, in 2000 and it topped the Latin dance charts and he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his single ‘Ven a Mi’. In the same year his personal life was bought to the attention of the press after former Miss USA Shanna Moakler filed a $62 million palimony suit against him for support of their daughter, Atiana Cecelia. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
3. George Foreman – $250 million
George Foreman retired in 1997 aged 48-years-old; he is the former two-time World Heavyweight Champion and the 1968 Olympic gold medalist. His fight record stood at 76 (68KO)-5-0 and he features in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In 1974 he lost his title after he was knocked out by Muhammad Ali during the famous “Rumble In The Jungle” fight; he said; “It just wasn’t my night”.
He grew up in Marshall, Texas and has now become a successful entrepreneur outside of the ring when he sold the rights to his George Foreman grill (which had already sold over 100 million units worldwide) to manufacturing giant Salton for $138 million. Foreman has said before that the money from his spin-off products have earned him more than his boxing career.
Foreman has five sons named George Jr., George III (“Monk”), George IV (“Big Wheel”), George V (“Red”), and George VI (“Little Joey”). He also has seven daughters.
2. Manny Pacquiao – $265 million
Manny Pacquiao is a Filipino professional boxer and his current fight record is 57 (38KO)-6-2. He is the only boxer who has won a title in seven different weight classes and many would say that he is the greatest boxer in the world right until his losses in 2012.
He started boxing aged 14-years-old when he was living on the streets in Manila, Philippines and he has an amateur record of 60-4. When he was 16-years-old he was ready for his first professional fight and he stood at stood at 4’11” and weighed 98 pounds. He had to put weights in his pocket to bring him up to the 105-pound minimum weight.
His last fight was against Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand May 2nd 2015; the fight took many years of negotiations and agreements. Pacquiao lost the fight by unanimous decision and said in his own defence that he was suffering from a shoulder injury throughout the fight, he claimed:
“This fight doesn’t bother me too much, I did my best. I hurt my shoulder, but I didn’t complain or say I was injured. This is part of the game. I didn’t want to make any excuses”.
1. Floyd Mayweather – $415 million
Floyd Mayweather is the undefeated champion of the world (his fight record is 48 (26KO)-0-0) and also the highest paid athlete on the planet as his current estimated worth is at a staggering $415 million. When he fought Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 the box-office sold 4.4 million views.
With this much money in the bank you would think he is 100% secure financially, however The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is owed $6.1 million in back taxes and he was also sued for $1.7 million when he backed out of a real estate purchase that was worth $8.5 million. Then in 2009 he was sued for failing to make a payment on his Mercedes Mayback 57S and he had to borrow $415,000 to pay for the car after he reportedly hadn’t made any payments in over a year. He also took a tough blow when over $7 million worth of jewellery was stolen from his own home.
His latest huge financial blow when he was sued for $20 million by the mother of his three children – Josie Harris. Mayweather gave an interview with Katie Couric the month before his fight with Pacquiao; he called Harris a drug abuser when he was discussing the two months he spent in jail for domestic-violence after an incident in 2010.
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