Boxing is one of the few sports where athletes can be paid hundreds of millions for just one event. While boxers like Floyd Mayweather are extreme outliers, other less famous boxing champs can still make millions for a fight. That said, despite these possibilities, most boxers barely make any money at all.
Salaries depend entirely on the boxer
Unlike sports leagues like the NBA or NFL, boxers aren’t unionized. So boxers must fend for themselves when it comes to pay. This could mean good things, but it could also mean bad things. For example, in the past, boxers were routinely exploited by their managers and by their promoters. This was until the U.S. government passed the Muhammad Ali Act into law.
The Ali Act, as it’s called, gave boxers a lot of protections from managers and promoters. But what it also did was it gave boxers a lot more power to negotiate for what they’re worth. This is what’s allowed Mayweather to get paid over a billion dollars for just a few years of fighting. That said, Mayweather was only able to negotiate for that much money because promoters felt that he was worth much money.
Lesser-known boxers aren’t so lucky. Without a union, there’s no base pay in boxing — and that’s just for American boxers. Boxers in other countries are even worse off.
Some boxing champs barely scrape by
Mario Rodriguez was a champ for a time in the minimumweight division. However, since his division isn’t very popular, and since he as a boxer wasn’t very popular, he didn’t make much money as champ. In fact, after he retired, he started cutting hair in his home country of Mexico to make ends meet.
While Rodriguez’s story is a more extreme example, most boxers will end up having a similar fate. Simply said, not everybody can be like Mayweather. There are some boxers whose only job is to lose to rising stars. These boxers, called journeymen, do not get paid much money, and it’s a less-than-glamorous lifestyle.
But of course, their salaries will all vary from person to person and from country to country. For example, Manny Pacquiao started boxing in his home country of the Philippines when he was just 12 years old, and he did it because he’d get paid just enough money to buy food for his family. While child boxing is still a thing in some parts of the world, this fact about Pacquiao just shows what boxing life is like in some parts of the world.
The average pay of most pro boxers
As a result of all these things, most boxers simply don’t make much money. As Chron said, the average boxer makes about $35,000 a year. In some places, this is better than minimum wage, but in other places, it’s not. That said, this is before taxes and expenses. Since boxers are independent contractors, they have to pay for a lot of things themselves.
While that’s the average, the reality can be even worse. For example, Bloody Elbow reported that, during the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, five boxers were paid less than $10,000 to fight. One woman, Sydney LeBlanc, was only paid $3,500 to fight. In comparison, Mayweather walked home with a guaranteed $100 million that night, and McGregor went home with a guaranteed $30 million.
But, at the same time, these boxers are still fighting other boxers. Almost everybody that Mike Tyson knocked out in his first year in the sport was one of these people. Some of them had dreams of being the best in the sport, but instead, they got punched in the face by Tyson. This just shows how dangerous boxing is, and how it may not be worth the struggle for many people.