Although you might have heard many rumors about professional boxers and that they easy, self-made millionaires. Well, only parts of that sentence are true. If you are searching how much do beginner boxers make, your eyes, of course, might bug out of your head. However, if you do another search on how long does it take to become a professional boxer, you might be a little discouraged to try your hand at going pro.
Before writing this article I had always heard rumors that even if the boxer lost and lost badly, they still get paid much more than you and I. How much do boxers get paid if they lose? Read on to find out.
Most boxers, don’t earn what’s deemed as a regular, incoming salary — an annual salary, if you will. Instead, they usually get paid per fight. However, if you are looking for the answer to the money question (literally and figuratively) you might be surprised to know that the range that how much does a boxer make, goes from two different extremes. Depending on who they are and their level, they can earn from a couple of hundred to millions of dollars. Not only does this depend on the name, it also depends on the contract and how the manager negotiates the price.
This is where the job stinks: if you are injured. Since most fighters get paid per boxing match with all its hype included, you won’t be getting paid for those fights that you can’t compete in.
In this guide, I’m going to go through all the different aspects that go into a professional boxer’s salary. From separate sponsorships to extra revenue coming in from a televised event to fights that are not even backed by anybody, all the different factors coming into a professional boxer’s salary is here in this guide.
As with any worker, especially professional athlete, the salary from one boxer to another can vary—and vary in large amounts. From a mere hundred bucks or less for a fight won to hundreds of millions of dollars to a fight on PPV, there are opportunities and hardships waiting in the life of a professional boxer. Depending on the contract you have, the agent you do or don’t have, and ultimately, how good you are, you could either be working two jobs on the side to make ends meet and then spending it all on boxing or be raking in hundreds of millions of dollars and living like the millionaire that you are. It depends on various factors, from the agent you have to the opponents you meet, to how good you are to make it all the way to the top.
From how much do undercard boxers make to the first pro boxing fight pay, the salary comes with a catch. These boxers are not employees—technically self-employed, therefore they aren’t under minimum wage laws. This might not be a problem at all if you are Mayweather or Rousey, however, if you’re a no-name trying to make it, you will probably need to pick up another job to meet your bills.
Let’s put some numbers on it. If you are a just-starting-out professional boxer and you fight TWELVE times in one year (which is once a month), calculate all the extra time you spend training, and not including the times where you’ll lose, and win $200 for a fight if you win. You’ll only be receiving $2,400 for the entire year—at most. For all the dedication and time, this might not seem like the best deal.
However, that example is a pretty low, beginning income for professional boxers and even lower when talking about the average professional athlete, who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, makes over $40 grand a year. Since their salary is paid per fight and not per year like most other professional athletes, the salary is a little less stable.
The typical pro-boxer’s total salary also decreases based on various expenses, like travel or accommodation since most fights aren’t in their backyard. Therefore, not only does a boxer’s salary depend on the number of fights they have but also the contract and deal they have with the fight itself.
Their salary also depends on their level of performance, as well. Even though some (if not, many) professional boxers earn only hundreds of dollars a fight, top boxers (the ones you hear about often) can earn millions of dollars for one fight alone.
Furthermore, even with the top boxers, the difference is astounding. Depending on your ranking, sponsorship, and popularity, you can really bring in the dough or get short-handed. To show you the large differences, I’ll show you a couple of examples. About five years ago, Floyd Mayweather fought against Robert Guerrero for $32 million. Guerrero however, earned only $3 million for that fight.
Although you might think that difference is unfair because we’re talking about the difference of millions of dollars—at the end of the day, one fighter makes almost $30 million LESS than the other. That’s a pretty huge gap. In the same year, Mayweather also earned $75 million for a fight against Canelo Alvarez, while his opponent earned $12 million.
Mayweather, however, is an extreme. Let’s look at a few other boxers who are lower on the chain.
The salary, or purses, for some fights can range from $375,000 as well for a title fight down to $800. Depending on where you’re fighting, who you’re fighting, and when and where it’s televised.
Ultimately, although wages are paid by round or by fight, these competitions make money off the fans. People pay to watch these boxers battle it out, so the more fans they draw in, even at-home with Pay-Per-View fights, the more money a fight is worth, therefore, the more money a fighter makes.
As I just mentioned, although it depends on the contract they have, a fighter also earns a bit of revenue when their boxing match is on Pay-Per-View and televised fights. If the manager is thrifty enough, the boxer can gain a huge chunk of change just for being displayed on television.
You can’t really predict how much a fighter will make simply in congruence with their Pay-Per-View percentage income but it’s not going to be something they should complain about.
For example, in the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight back in 2015, both fighters accumulated an extra $200 million each simply form having their fight televised. You can imagine how much their fight rolled in on television because that is just a small percentage of the total.
Extra cash for professional boxers also comes from their sponsors. Whether they are endorsing a product on their sites, on commercials, on social media or wearing a company logo on their shorts during a fight or on their hat at the end, there are professional contracts made from sponsors that want their products endorsed with the several millions of fights watching boxers duke it out. This extra salary also varies largely based on the popularity of the fight, when and where it’s televised, etc.
This is the downside of being a professional boxer. Especially if you’re not at the tippy-top of the food chain—you’re covering all of your expenses. As I mentioned before, boxers aren’t employees of the league or anything like that so they have to pay their own way through a fight or competition.
Most boxers are responsible not only for living expenses but their own health insurance, training costs, gym memberships plus equipment, and travel expenses.
Another huge expense that he would have to pay is their trainer. Most of these boxers don’t do it on their own and if they are going to a professional fight, they’ll have their trainer with them. Most coaches get a ten percent commission of their earnings, which, of course, varies with boxers and coaches.
Another percentage of a fighter’s earnings goes to the manager, if they have one. The manager makes normally more than the coach, since they arrange the fight, the contract, and negotiate with sponsors for a little extra money. These boxing managers normally earn a third of the earnings.
Let’s be honest here, the title of the article is letting you know that I’m going to share some salaries of real professional boxers in real time with real dollar signs.
So, let’s get into it. Here are the top five highest earned salaries and highest grossing boxing fights of all time:
Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II June 1997 – $100m
This was the famous fight where Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off. Unfortunately, if the managers had known that would happen, the income probably could have easily doubled.
Mike Tyson vs Lennox Lewis June 2002 – $112m
Exactly five years later, Tyson does it again. To know the hype before this fight, you can see it through this quote, said by Tyson prior to the fight: “I want your heart. I want to eat your children.”
Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya
(May 2007) – $136m
This is where we enter the Mayweather era. He was 37-0 right before the fight and de la Hoya also had an impressive record: 38-4 with 30 knockouts. It sold out in just three hours after it was released.
Floyd Mayweather vs Canelo Alvarez (Sep 2013) – $150m
May weather again took the cake here in grossing a huge income when he fought against the astounding record 45-0 Alvarez.
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao (May 2015) – $410m
Insane when you think about it, this fight raked in $410 MILLION dollars. The fight itself, however, was less than satisfactory, with a defensive display from Mayweather, even though ultimately he took the W.
Those were the highest grossing fights of all time—let’s look into the average salary or how much money is brought in from the “everyday” fights held on television. If your question is how much do showtime boxers make? Here is your answer:
Here are a few fights recorded from a card disbursement from ESPN 2, HBO, PPV, Fox Sports, and Showtime:
January 7 – ESPN 2 Friday Night Fights
Ruslan Provodnikov $10,000
Mauricio Herrera: $8,500 Demetrius Andrade $8,000
UD-8 Albert Herrera $6,500
Harry Namauu $2,000
Jose Gomez $1,800
Manuel Otero $1,500
Richard Contreras $1,200 KO-1 Juan Tepoz $1,200
Oscar Andrade $1,200 Deth’Marcus Hall $1,200
Jesus Gutierrez $1,200
Franky Martinez $1,200
Lonnie Smith $800
Total Payouts: $46,300
A seemingly small televised show where the top two fights of the night were rewarded with decent pay. Local fighter Lonnie Smith had an 11-2 record at the time and was heading a guy who was 3-4 before the fight. The fight was honestly a filler fight. Andrade/Hall, however, were two guys with records of 3-4. Therefore, it was imbalanced as to why they earned so high that night.
January 22 – Top Rank Live on Fox Sports Net
Diego Magdaleno $8,500 Marcos Leonardo Jimenez $6,000
Robert Marroquin $7,500 Eduardo Arcos $6,000
Jose Benavidez $4,000
Fernando Rodriguez $3,000
Julio Cesar Dos Santos $2,500
Valente Tinajero $2,500
Abraham Han $2,000
Orphius Waite $3,000
Anthony Lenk $3,000
Tyler Pogline $2,000
Jesse Magdaleno $2,500
Cain Garcia $1,500
Total Payout: $54,000
With this fight, you can see that most payouts were pretty decent, aside from the last one, who was facing a 0-1 guy. However, for Fox Sports, you would think that they could dish out a bit more cash. However, for the night, it’s over $50 grand to pay for all the fighters—not a bad deal for the network with all the viewers and advertisement they were raking in.
February 19 – HBO World Championship Boxing
Nonito Donaire $350,000
Fernando Montiel $250,000
Mike Jones $75,000
Jesus Soto Karass $75,000
Mike Alvarado $20,000
Mark Jason Melligen $10,000
Mickey Bey Jr. $8,000
Dean Harrison $8,000
Gabriel Martinez $6,000
Jose Hernandez $6,000
Rodrigo Garcia $5,000
Gerald Jordan $3,500
Yordenis Ugas $3,000
Armando Dorantes $2,800
Carlos Musquez $2,500
Ignacio Garcia $2,200
Total Payout: $827,000
Now, that’s better. This fight was on the world stage. Each and every fighter here for their money’s worth since they were dedicated enough to make it to the World stage and competition. If you compare the top prices to the bottom, you can barely complain.
February 26 – Showtime Championship Boxing
Brandon Rios $125,000
Miguel Acosta $125,000
Robert Marroquin $7,500
Gilberto Sanchez Leon $6,750
Mike Lee $5,000
Aaron Garcia $5,000
Alejandro Lopez $4,000
Anthony Lenk $3,500
Andy Ruiz Jr. $3,000
Alvaro Morales $2,500
Jesse Magdaleno $2,500
Terry Buterbaugh $2,500
Ramiro Bueno Jr. $1,500
Pablo Gomez $1,500
Jamie Gutierrez $1,500
Hiromitsu Miura $600
Total Payout: $297,350
As you can see here, as well, this championship had a large payout. With such a big audience, they could afford it. Even though Miura only earned $600, don’t believe all the recorded statistics out there.
I could go on and on with statistics and dollar signs taken from a variety and numerous amounts of fights, from the different channels to different times and compare them all. The entire scenario could be a huge statistic-fest that would leave you drowning in numbers, so I’m not going to do that to you.
However, the one thing I wanted you to take away from all these numbers were the facts. If you are looking into how much a professional boxer, the bottom line here is that it depends. Un-televised, undercard fighters get paid a substantial amount less than the top guns in the competition but at the end of the day it isn’t less than they deserve. Therefore, if you are professional and in these competitions, your takeaway will still be worth it.
The distribution of money here also makes sense. The ones that’ll drop in the numbers—fans, statistics, and ultimately, revenue, are getting the most payout. If you had five salespeople, for example, on your team, and you made $100,000 in revenue but one person had 19 sales and one person had 5, should the one making 19 earn the same as the one who just made 5? Of course not. It’s based on merit, popularity, ranking, etc.
However, the undercards, or underdogs don’t get a horrible end of the day. These organizations normally do a great job in taking care of the less-popular and help them get contracts and better deals in the future, as well.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, Mayweather and McGregor, really set themselves apart from the pack when it comes to not only drawing in the cash and salaries but also the viewers. Since they are both highly successful fighters and billed as the “billion dollar” fighter, they are both at their top potential and looking to earn money for the reputation they’ve built.
However, they don’t simply earn from just fighting. They are making investments in businesses and showing off their money in other ways in lavish lifestyles.
So, if you are looking to give professional fighting a go, just be prepared to earn anywhere from only $300 to $3,000 per fight. However, if it is your passion, it should be something to go for it. There are always other opportunities out there to take on multiple jobs or business interests to be able to compete in your passion. Boxers throughout the ages by night are normal, regular, 9-5 workers by day.
It takes a lot of effort, hard work, success, and actually, money, to become the best of the best. Being so, financial success stories like the three fighters Mayweather, Pacquiao, and Alvarez aren’t exactly normal, everyday stories. They are built on years and years of fighting, investing, and ultimately, winning. They are the only three boxers that made the ranking of the highest-earning athletes back in 2016.
To see a bit of the fighters and their skills, and ultimately, what makes them, them, here are a couple videos showing off their best moments:
The following year, in 2017, McGregor and Alvarez made the list again but Pacquiao was left out of it. Instead, taking his place was Anthony Joshua. They made company to the overwhelming numbers left by other professional sports. From soccer, which was responsible for 9 places on the list, to American football, which holds a whopping 16 places, to baseball, which raked in 22 places on the top 100 and to top it all off, the long list of the world’s highest-paid athletes involved 32 professional basketball players.
Now if you’re looking for statistics, ratios, and percentages here, you really aren’t looking at the best. If only three boxers made it on the list when looking at the approximately 20,000 actively professional boxers registered, and over 1,000 professional MMA athletes in the world today, you really aren’t working with the odds in mind.
Statistics have predicted, that with these numbers, only about 19 fighters—less than 20—from the pool of all those fighters I just mentioned across the world, will be earning over $2 million a year. Therefore, to put a number on it, you can say that to make it, you have to truly make it — only .09 percent of fighters actually get to the top-earning salary..not nine, not 0.9—.09.
Therefore, if you’re looking to fight, get prepared to be living paycheck to paycheck, hoping you win your next fight. And by paycheck, we mean fight to fight. Depending on your manager, sometimes you even have less of a chance to earn anything at all. For example, if you lose, you could be only making a matter of a handful of change for your fight, meaning you definitely have to take up another job.
You still like your chances and are willing to test your skills? Do you want to know how do you become a professional boxer? Do you want to gamble with the uncertainty of payday? Then you can try your hand at it. Not only do you have to be a good boxer, be physically fit, in good health, and stand the test of time through amateur fights, you also have to get your license, which requires an application along with your amateur record, two passport photos, identification and a fee. You also have to be on record in passing medical testing like:
Dilated ophthalmologic examination
Even though all of this might technically make you a professional boxer, you still have to work your way up the ranks, scratch and fight your way up to the top and spend countless hours training in the gym to defeat fighters much more experienced and better than you—just to make it to big leagues. And then, once you get there—that’s a whole other story.
Depending on the country, for example, if you’re searching “how much do boxers get paid UK”, it might be different than the average professional boxer in the U.S. make, and vastly different than the average professional boxer in, let’s see, Uganda makes. Depending on a various amount of things and aspects can either hurt or help your cause.
Ultimately, with programs and shows in place held by organizations like the UFC, where they bring in MMA fighters to battle it out, they make their money with PPV and the popularity of the fight. If you are a fighter without a name, it’s hard to really dish out the money or the salary, simply because you’re a good fighter.
With all things considered, however, if you do make it to the top, as we see with fighters like McGregor, Tyson, and Mayweather, you can definitely say, almost literally, that the fight is worth it—several hundred millions of dollars worth it.
I hope that this guide has given you a bit of insight when it comes to any questions that you may have about how much does a professional boxer make. Whether you are into boxing, training and have a goal to become professional or just doing it on an amateur basis, it’s always good to know what happens to people at the top of the top.