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Five Highest-Grossing Boxing Fights Of All Time

A big boxing fight grabs the attention and imagination of the world, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he looks back at the five highest-grossing pay-per-views in the sport’s history.

Floyd Mayweather

A big boxing fight grabs the attention and imagination of the world, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he looks back at the five highest-grossing pay-per-views in the sport’s history.

Fighting is universal. It’s a language everyone understands and every so often, a super-fight comes along that transcends boxing and does unthinkable numbers.

While the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Rocky Marciano, Ray Leonard, Ray Robinson, Manny Pacquiao, Tyson Fury and Canelo Alvarez are all legendary figures, Floyd “Money” Mayweather stands tall as the undisputed king of pay-per-view.

Boxing’s billion-dollar man featured in all four of the biggest box office bouts of all time. Let’s round it off and reflect on the five highest-earning boxing fights ever:

5: Lennox Lewis v Mike Tyson

With the unhinged Tyson involved, it wasn’t a shock when a wild brawl broke out at the pre-fight press conference, which resulted in the mega-match being moved from Las Vegas to the Pyramid Arena in Memphis.

The melee made the heavyweight title showdown that much more of a can’t-miss fight and helped it generate 1,950,000 pay-per-view buys and $112 million, making it just the second fight after Tyson’s rematch against Evander Holyfield in 1997 to break the $100 million mark up to that point.

Lewis was on song on the night (June 8, 2002), the Brit battering and ultimately knocking out “Iron” in the eighth round.

4: Floyd Mayweather v Oscar de la Hoya

 A dream bout that delivered between the ropes, Mayweather and De La Hoya put on a classic for the capacity crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and 2,480,000 fight fans watching at home on May 5, 2007.

Little separated the two legends in an electric back-and-forth battle that generated $136 million and saw Mayweather secure a split decision win to capture the WBC super welterweight title.  

3: Floyd Mayweather v Canelo Alvarez

The September 14, 2013, fight between Mayweather and Alvarez, also at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, was seen as a possible passing of the torch tilt, however, “Money” had other ideas.

Far from ready to concede his stature as the face of boxing to Canelo, Mayweather led the dance and was at his elusive best as he handed the rising Mexican star – who’d eventually go on to become the top draw and pound-for-pound king – his only loss, winning on all three judges’ scorecards.

Watched by 2,200,000 people on pay-per-view, the blockbuster brought in a cool $150 million.

2: Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor

Intrigue was at an all-time high for the ultimate crossover fight as two-division UFC champion McGregor entered the squared circle to take on Mayweather in what was the former’s first and the latter’s last professional boxing fight.

After an epic world tour to promote the mega-fight, which saw “The Notorious” win the verbal battle, words gave way to action at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on August 8, 2017, where Mayweather weathered an early storm and earned a tenth-round stoppage to remain undefeated.

Both men smiled all the way to the bank, making over $100 million each. In all, the Money Fight as it was billed pulled in 4,300,000 pay-per-view buys and a whopping $396 million.

1: Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

The Fight of the Century lived up to its billing commercially, but as the dream fight came a few years after it should have, it was a titanically tense but ultimately rather dull affair.

Going down at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2, 2015, Mayweather employed his defensive wizardry and poked away at “Pac Man” over 12 rounds to come away with a comfortable unanimous decision victory.

An unprecedented 4,600,000 people tuned in on pay-per-view with the fight grossing an astronomical $410 million.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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