Forbes Magazine has released a list of the world's highest-paid athletes from June 2011 through June 2012, and the top two names on the list are Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, those leaders of that dead sport boxing.
Mayweather made $85 million in fights with Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto over that time period, says Forbes, with no endorsement money at all. Pacquiao made $56 million in fights with Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley, and an additional $6 million in endorsements.
Mayweather maximizes his earnings by also acting as his own fight promoter through his company Mayweather Promotions. He collects all of the revenue from tickets, pay-per-view and sponsorships and covers the costs, including the purse for his opponent. His take home per fight is typically at least 50% higher than what his rival Manny Pacquiao earns.
Being a wildly polarizing figure doesn't seem to have hurt his earnings. He charmed old ladies as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2007 and provoked outrage with his racially charged, hate-filled rant against Pacquiao in 2010. His antics create buzz, and the result is both boxing fans and people who are normally indifferent to the sport pay up for his bouts. He has been a part of the four biggest non-heavyweight PPV events in boxing's history. The Cotto fight generated $94 million in PPV receipts.
Also placing on the list:
- World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is No. 24. Klitschko made $24 million in the ring, $4 million outside of it.
- Miguel Cotto is No. 75, at $19 million, for fights with Mayweather and Antonio Margarito.
Now I don't meant to run this as "yay boxing! Look how healthy it is because two guys make a boatload of money!" That's not really a useful attitude, and is empty cheerleading, in my view. But it's something, anyway, and it should make clear exactly how much money we're talking about when we talk about the true Super Bowl level of the sport of boxing, these big fight events.
Say it all you want to and convince yourself it doesn't matter, and feel in your heart that as a Die Hard Hard Core Boxing Head, the fight doesn't much matter to you, but I get the feeling that there's still a lot of juice in a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Call it a hunch. We're talking about the world's two highest-paid athletes.