Professional boxing is one of the most popular and lucrative sports in the world. One only has to look at the recent bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, which sold a record 4.4 million PPVs, earning a staggering $410 million from that source alone. Furthermore, many great fighters are charismatic and popular figures, which is a great springboard for success outside of the ring as well. The following is a list of boxers who have managed to turn their fighting skills into fame, but also fortune:
10. Bernard Hopkins – $40 Million
Bernard Hopkins is a legend and an inspiration – and not just for athletes! His early life was rough, and at seventeen he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for multiple felonies. While serving his sentence he discovered his passion for boxing and has never looked back since.
He is the first man to hold all four major sanctioning bodies` (IBF, WBC, WBO, and WBA) titles, and at 46 he broke George Foreman’s record for oldest boxer to win a world championship fight. The Executioner, as he is nicknamed, broke his own record by winning a championship fight at the age of 49!
In addition to his many accomplishments in the ring, Bernard Hopkins is also a partner in Golden Boy Promotions alongside Oscar De La Hoya, among others.
9. Marvelous Marvin Hagler – $45 Million
Marvin Hagler was so annoyed with announcers not mentioning his nickname -‘Marvelous’ – enough that he had his name legally changed to include it! One of the best fighters of the 1980s, he was Undisputed World Middleweight Champion from 1980 to 1987, the second longest reign in history.
After hanging up his gloves, Hagler went to Italy where he became sort of an action movie star. He also provides commentary for British television and has contributed to EA Sports` Fight Night Round 3 boxing video game.
8. Vitali Klitschko – $65 Million
One of the great fighters of the past two decades, Vitali Klitschko has never been knocked down, and the only two defeats in his illustrious career have been due to a shoulder injury and a deep cut below his eye. The Ukrainian was leading on the scorecards in both fights.
After retiring, Klitschko entered politics and is currently the Mayor of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital and largest city. His powerful punches and the fact that he has a PhD have earned him the nickname ‘Dr. Ironfist’.
7. Muhammad Ali – $80 Million
One of the most famous athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali is known both for his skill in the ring, as well as for his personality outside of it.
Nicknamed ‘The Greatest,’ Ali became heavyweight champion at 22 by defeating Sonny Liston in one of the greatest upsets in history, but subsequently lost his title after refusing to be conscripted. Years later, he won his titles back after electrifying bouts with George Foreman and Joe Frazier, widely viewed as some of the best fights of all time.
6. Sugar Ray Leonard – $120 Million
Sugar Ray Leonard is widely regarded as one of the best boxers of the 1980s, even though he first announced his retirement in as early as 1982. Years later, he nevertheless returned to the ring and in 1987 upset Marvelous Marvin Hagler after a highly controversial split decision.
After finally retiring for good, Leonard worked as a sports analyst for various broadcasters and has also supplemented his earning with various product endorsements. He’s even appeared in a series of movies, most recently in The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.
Also notable is the fact that Sugar Ray Leonard is was the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses, paving the way for the incredibly lucrative deals of the present.
5. Lennox Lewis – $140 Million
British boxer Lennox Lewis holds the distinction of being the most recent heavyweight champion of the world, after defeating Evander Holyfield in 1999. After other famous wins against the likes of Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko (against the latter, however, in a controversial manner), Lewis retired in 2004.
After hanging up his gloves, Lewis was reportedly offered £5 million to become a WWE wrestler, which he ultimately turned down. After earning as much as $84 million during his boxing career, one could say he didn’t really need the money.
4. Oscar De La Hoya – $200 Million
One of the best and most popular boxers of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Oscar De La Hoya generated a massive $700 million in pay-per-view income throughout his career. He did so in bouts across six weight classes, against some of the greatest fighters of the past couple of decades, like Bernard Hopkins, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather.
Even before retiring, De La Hoya (whose nickname is ‘The Golden Boy’) became an active boxing promoter, through his promotional firm called Golden Boy Promotions.
3. George Foreman – $250 Million
One of the most successful heavyweights of all time, George Foreman secured his place in the history of the sport after beating the heavily favored, undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, Joe Frazier in 1973. The next year, he lost to Muhammad Ali in one of the most famous fights of all time, dubbed The Rumble in the Jungle.
After retiring in 1977, Foreman managed a remarkable comeback in the 90s, becoming the oldest heavyweight champion ever in 1994, at age 45.
Even with all his success as a boxer, Foreman has earned far more from endorsing the George Foreman Grill, receiving $137 million in 1999 just for the right to use his name with the product.
2. Manny Pacquiao – $265 Million
Manny Pacquiao has come a long way from living on the streets of Manila, to being one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
Widely regarded as the best boxer of the previous decade, ‘Pac-Man’ was showing signs that he was past his prime after controversial bouts with Juan Manuel Márquez and Timothy Bradley. Nevertheless, fans were still clamoring for the so-called ‘Fight of the Century’ between Pacquiao and Mayweather, which we finally got to see in May 2015. Pacquiao, earned a staggering $120 million for the fight, which he lost by unanimous decision.
In addition to his boxing career, Pacquiao is also a congressman in his country, where he is revered as a national hero.
1. Floyd Mayweather – $415 Million
Floyd Mayweather is on top the world right now. The undefeated world champion has finally vanquished one of his great rivals in last month’s ‘Fight of the Century,’ for which he received the highest purse ever offered: an incredible $180 million. Even before, ‘Money’ Mayweather was banking record sums for every fight, frequently placing him near the top of ‘highest paid athletes in the world’ lists (a list which he now, unsurprisingly, tops).
Following the example of Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather has also started his own promotional company, called Mayweather Promotions.