How Floyd Mayweather Became Boxing’s First $1 Billion Fighter

Floyd Mayweather clashes against Conor McGregor Saturday night in Las Vegas in the highly publicized bout which is a one-part boxing and four-part spectacle. Most boxing experts give McGregor little chance, but the only sure bet on Saturday night is both fighters will pocket massive paychecks for their at most 36 minutes of in-ring work. McGregor will likely clear at least $100 million with Mayweather online for more than $200 million, taking his career earnings to nearly $1 billion.

Mayweather’s road to $1 billion was paved with savvy marketing and a prescient $750,000 bet on himself. Notorious player Mayweather didn’t bet on himself in the ring, but outside of it when he parted ways with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum a decade ago. Mayweather figured he could earn more on his own than under the thumb of the promoter who worked with Muhammad Ali, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.

Arum promoted Floyd under his Pretty Boy moniker during the first decade of Mayweather’s professional career following the 1996 Summer Olympics. It was a fruitful partnership as Mayweather went undefeated with growing salary. After notching 17 straight wins, he won his first title in 1998 with a technical knockout of Genaro Hernandez and won $150,000. His first two pay-per-view fights were in 2005 and 2006 against Arturo Gatti and Zab Judah had PPV buy rates of 365,000 and 375,000. Mayweather’s paychecks were consistently in the $3 million range. dollars.

Mayweather wanted more though. He had an opt-out clause in his contract with Top Rank with a payment of $750,000 released from the agreement in 2006 there in an interview with Forbes.

Mayweather started his own promotional business. He went from Pretty Boy to Money Mayweather. Mayweather has become the ultimate showman. He appeared in Dancing with the Stars and WrestleMania. He built a social network that today has 37 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “He had the big vision to take his brand to the next level,” Ellerbe said.

Mayweather’s paychecks have skyrocketed with him in charge. He pocketed $25 million for his split decision win over Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. The fight broke the PPV buys record with 2.48 million. The De La Hoya fight was the first of 12 consecutive $25 million or more paydays for Mayweather.

The creation of Mayweather Promotions allowed all sources of revenue to flow through Mayweather. The intermediary was out.

Mayweather signed a blockbuster six-fight deal with Showtime in 2013 to air his fights through its PPV arm and appear on its All Access series. Mayweather had been an HBO guy during his career, but Showtime made an offer he couldn’t refuse in his bid to create a rival for HBO in the boxing game. The Showtime pact has increased its per-fight guarantee to at least $32 million, plus its share of PPV revenue.

The deal became the most lucrative in sports history thanks to highly anticipated fights with Canelo Alvarez and Pacquiao. The fight against Canelo in September 2013 broke the PPV revenue record with $153 million. Mayweather’s collateral was a record $41.5 million and he earned more than $30 million more from his reduced earnings.

The May 2015 Pacquiao fight set all financial records for combat sports that Mayweather-McGregor is targeting with PPV buys ($4.6 million), PPV revenue ($440 million) and gate receipts ($72 million). of dollars). Mayweather’s last pay day after all PPV receipts were tallied was nearly $250 million for the lackluster fight. His total take during the Showtime deal topped $450 million over two and a half years.

Mayweather retired when his Showtime contract ended in 2015, but he returns to the ring on Saturday night for a second nine-figure pay day. His Saturday guarantee is $100 million (McGregror is $30 million) with the two fighters sharing the PPV on the upside. Mayweather’s first 15 fights on PPV generated 19.5 million buys and generated $1.3 billion in PPV revenue.

If the McGregor fight is a PPV hit like most people expect (the line in Vegas is 4.99 million purchases), then Mayweather’s total career earnings will reach $1 billion. He will join two other iconic athletes whose earnings reached $1 billion in Michael Jordan ($1.5 million) and Tiger Woods ($1.4 billion), with both relying on endorsements for more than 90% of their careers. If you take inflation into account, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Michael Schumacher also make the grade at this exclusive club.

Full List: Highest-Paid Athletes in the World

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