Floyd Mayweather made a career of playing the heel and flaunting his riches through his lavish spending, six-figure gambling tickets and blockbuster paydays in the ring. It has been a lucrative route for Mayweather, who traded his “Pretty Boy” moniker for his current “Money” nickname a decade ago.
Another massive purse awits the five-division world champion in August for his boxing match versus UFC star Conor McGregor. If Mayweather can secure a similar payday to his 2015 Manny Pacquiao bout, it will push his career earnings to $1 billion.
Ten-figures is rarefied air for sports stars. The only athletes to earn $1 billion from their sporting careers are Michael Jordan ($1.5 billion) and Tiger Woods ($1.4 billion), who banked $1 billion-plus from sponsors with Nike the biggest benefactor for both. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Michael Schumacher also make the cut if you adjust for inflation.
Mayweather’s paycheck for the McGregor bout will ultimately be determined by the pay-per-view audience. Mayweather earned roughly $250 million for his Pacquiao fight, which broke every financial boxing record, including 4.6 million PPV buys and more than $600 million in gross revenue across all revenue streams. The current betting line in Las Vegas for PPV buys for Mayweather-McGregor is 4.99 million per Bovada.
Mayweather retired in 2015 after an eight-year run as the biggest star in boxing. After defeating Andre Berto in Sept. 2015, Mayweather declared, “There’s nothing else for me to do in the sport of boxing. I made great investments, I’m financially stable, well off.”
Apparently, there is more for Floyd to do in boxing after he “unretired” this year to face McGregor. Mayweather’s financial stability also was questioned this week after a pair of IRS tax liens were revealed totally nearly $30 million for the 2010 and 2015 tax years. Mayweather filed a petition to postpone his 2015 tax liability citing a “significant liquidity event scheduled in about 60 days.” The petition states Mayweather has “substantial” assets, but “those assets are restricted and primarily illiquid.”
McGregor has needled Mayweather all week about his tax bills during their four-city, three-country promotional tour to hype the fight. The tour invades New York City today before concluding in London on Friday.
A look at Mayweather’s paydays over two decades show the transformation from Pretty Boy to Money Mayweather. He turned pro in 1996 after a controversial Olympic bronze medal (he lost a wildly disputed decision in the semifinals). Mayweather earned mostly five-figure paydays while knocking out 13 of his first 15 opponents. He won his first title in 1998 after a technical knockout of Genaro Hernandez. It was his biggest paycheck to date at $150,000.
Mayweather’s first PPV bout came in 2005, but he was the B-side to the more popular Arturo Gatti. Mayweather earned $3.2 million for his six-round destruction of Gatti. His earnings skyrocketed with his 2007 split-decision win over Oscar De La Hoya. Mayweather pocketed $25 million for his breakthrough win, while De La Hoya earned a then-record $52 million as the fight set a record for PPV buys with 2.48 million. It would be the last time a Mayweather opponent earned more than him in the ring.
Mayweather broke ties with promoter Top Rank before the De La Hoya fight. He had an opt-out clause in his contract with Top Rank that let him pay $750,000 to get out of his contract. It was money well spent. “It is the best investment in the history of sports,” says Mayweather’s long-time confidante and CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe.
Mayweather set up his promotion company in 2007, which allowed Floyd to capture revenue as both fighter and promoter. He earned a steady diet of $25 million to $40 million paychecks over the next six years and then more than $70 million for his 2013 bout versus Canelo Alvarez, which set a record with $153 million in PPV revenue.
The six-year, back-and-forth negotiations between Mayweather and Pacquiao finally produced a fight in 2015. It was a letdown for the PPV audience, but both boxers earned record paydays. The bout crowned Mayweather as the world’s highest-paid athlete for the third time in four years. Four months after beating Pacquiao, Mayweather defeated Berto to run his record to 49-0 with slightly more than $700 million in career boxing earnings.
Mayweather eschewed endorsements for most of his career but signed several ahead of the Pacquiao fight with Hublot, Burger King and FanDuel. He’s earned millions since then from appearances around the world, as well as his “The Money Team” merchandise. Forbes estimates Mayweather made roughly $30 million outside the ring during his career, excluding investment income.
Another Pacquiao-sized payday will push Mayweather’s total career earnings to $1 billion. The world and IRS will be watching come August 26.