Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor: Five famous moments in boxing's financial history

We take a look at five seminal moments in boxing's financial history.

Sport360 staff
by Sport360 staff
15th June 2017

article:15th June 2017

Nine-figure purses and pay-per-view revenues to match have already been projected for Floyd Mayweather’s fight with mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor in Las Vegas in August.

Here, Press Association Sport picks out five more seminal moments in boxing’s financial history:


1. JACK JOHNSON v JIM JEFFERIES, 1910

Jefferies came out of retirement to challenge Johnson in the so-called ‘Fight of the Century’ as white America sought desperately to find a way to dethrone the controversial champion. Johnson was tempted by a purse in excess of USD100,000 – two thirds of which was promised to the winner. In front of 20,000 people in Reno, Johnson duly took the spoils.

2. GENE TUNNEY v JACK DEMPSEY, 1927

Tunney all but earned boxing’s first million-dollar purse for his world heavyweight title rematch with Dempsey in 1927. Tunney’s actual purse was USD990,445, but he paid promoter Tex Rickard the difference in order to receive a cheque for USD1million. Tunney won the much-hyped contest which will go down in history as ‘The Batlte of the Long Count’ after Tunney survived an extended seventh round knockdown.

3. MUHAMMAD ALI v GEORGE FOREMAN, 1974

Ali and Foreman split a total purse of USD10million for what is arguably the most famous boxing match of all time – a relative pittance by today’s astronomical standards. Promoter Don King made the promise to bring the pair together, then was forced to head to the heart of Africa to discover a regime obsessive and dictatorial enough to stump up the cash. The Rumble in the Jungle was born.

4. SUGAR RAY LEONARD v THOMAS HEARNS, 1981

Leonard was no stranger to multi-million dollar purses after two epic battles with Roberto Duran. But the USD10million he was to be paid for his world welterweight title scrap with Thomas Hearns set a new record for dollars earned in a single sporting event. Hearns also earned over USD5million for a contest which shattered the notion that only the sport’s heavyweight division could command such fees.

5. FLOYD MAYWEATHER v MANNY PACQUIAO, 2015

Mayweather and Pacquiao both grossed nine-figure purses for the first time despite their anti-climactic meeting in Las Vegas in 2015. The richest bout in boxing history earned a total of around USD600million in total revenue, almost two thirds of which was made up by record pay-per-view buys. The new mark shattered the estimated USD150million generated by Mayweather’s previous fight against Saul Alvarez.


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Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor: Five famous moments in boxing’s financial history

We take a look at five seminal moments in boxing's financial history.

1. JACK JOHNSON v JIM JEFFERIES, 1910

1. JACK JOHNSON v JIM JEFFERIES, 1910

2. GENE TUNNEY v JACK DEMPSEY, 1927

2. GENE TUNNEY v JACK DEMPSEY, 1927

3. MUHAMMAD ALI v GEORGE FOREMAN, 1974

3. MUHAMMAD ALI v GEORGE FOREMAN, 1974

4. SUGAR RAY LEONARD v THOMAS HEARNS, 1981

4. SUGAR RAY LEONARD v THOMAS HEARNS, 1981

5. FLOYD MAYWEATHER v MANNY PACQUIAO, 2015

5. FLOYD MAYWEATHER v MANNY PACQUIAO, 2015