Ever wondered which boxing events sold the most pay-per-views and made the most money? Well, you have come to the right place. In this article we take a deep dive to find out the 10 highest grossing pay-per-views in boxing history.
There have been some extraordinary boxing events over the years, with big fights attracting huge numbers worldwide, as well as drawing celebrities from all across the world to ringside. Fights like Mayweather vs Pacquiao and Lewis vs Tyson live long in the memory and have made an astounding amount of money in PPV revenue.
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10 Highest Grossing Pay-Per-View In Boxing History
Counting down from 10 to 1, here are the the top ten highest grossing boxing pay-per-view events of all time…
10. Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez III – 1.4 Million PPV Buys
Kicking off the top 10 highest grossing PPV boxing fights of all time is the trilogy bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. The fight took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on November 12th 2011 and was quite an amazing spectacle.
On fight night, the fight itself was super close, with Pacquiao just getting the nod on the judges scorecards via majority decision. The fight was at a catchweight of 144-pounds with the WBO welterweight title on the line.
Their first fight was deemed a draw, with Pacquiao winning the second via split decision. This was the third of their fights, with a fourth coming in December 2012, in which Marquez won via stunning knockout with one second remaining in the sixth round.
No surprise to see this fight in the Top 10.
9. Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto – 1.5 Million PPV Buys
In at number nine is the first one featuring Floyd Mayweather, who made it to number one on our list of the highest paid boxers of all time. Mayweather won this fight via unanimous decision, winning the WBA-Super light-middleweight title in the process.
This fight did huge numbers in terms of pay-per-view buys, with 1.5 people worldwide reaching into their pockets to purchase this fight. Mayweather moved to 43-0 after this win, and was further solidifying himself as the best boxer of his era.
The fight took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which sort of became Mayweather’s second home, on May 5th 2012. No points for guessing that this won’t be the only fight of ‘Money’ Mayweather’s career featuring on this list.
8. Mike Tyson vs Peter McNeeley – 1.55 Million PPV Buys
In at number eight is another fight from the MGM Grand in Nevada, where Mike Tyson destroyed Peter McNeeley in just one round, with McNeeley getting disqualified. The fight did 1.55 Million buys at the PPV and took place on August 19th, 1995.
This may be seen as a shock inclusion in the top 10, but it was seen as the return of Mike Tyson after a long period of inactivity. The fight, named ‘He’s Back’, was a one sided beatdown from ‘Iron Mike’.
McNeeley was disqualified as his manager, Vinnie Vecchione, entered the ring to prevent his fighter from taking any more damage. Of course, this isn’t allowed, hence why McNeeley was disqualified and the fight was awarded as a 1st Round DQ victory to Tyson.
7. Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield – 1.59 Million PPV buys
In at number seven and the second fight of Mike Tyson’s on this list is his first bout with rival, Evander Holyfield. No, this isn’t the infamous ear-biting fight, that comes later. Holyfield won this fight via 11th Round KO, after beating Tyson up from the mid rounds into the later rounds as Tyson was visibly tiring.
Again, the MGM Grand was the venue for this mega-fight, with a sold-out crown in attendance as well as 1.59 people worldwide buying the pay-per-view. The fight took place on November 9th, 1996 and is definitely the less famous of their two bouts.
No shock to see this one comfortably make the top 10 highest grossing boxing PPV fights of all time.
6. Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson – 1.97 Million PPV Buys
In at number six is yet another Mike Tyson fight, this time for his bout with Britain’s Lennox Lewis. The fight went down on June 8th, 2002 and was such a one sided fight in favor of big Lennox.
The Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee took centre stage as these two huge heavyweight went at it in the middle of the ring. The fight ended in the eighth round with Lewis stopping his American rival after seemingly beating him up for the first seven rounds and torturing Tyson with his jab.
the WBC, IBF, IBO and Ring Magazine heavyweight titles were all on the line here, and the fight was a huge spectacle. Not only did ‘The Lion’ triumph on the night, but he walked away with a $17.5 million purse too for his troubles.
5. Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II – 1.99 Million PPV Buys
Kicking off the top five is one of the most famous fights of all time for all of the wrong reasons. Yes, the rematch between Tyson and Holyfield did just short of two million buys at the pay-per-view, and boy did those fans in attendance and who watched the fight get to see something they will never forget for the rest of their lives.
The famous ear biting incident was the talking point in this fight, with Mike Tyson literally tearing off a bit of Evander Holyfield’s ear with his teeth. Obviously, Holyfield was deemed the winner as Tyson was disqualified for the ear bite in the third round.
Already it was apparent that the fight was getting away from Tyson after just two rounds, hence why he felt the need to munch of a bit of human flesh. The fight took place on June 28th, 1997 for the WBA World Heavyweight Championship and most certainly achieved notoriety as one of the most bizarre fights in boxing history.
4. Floyd Mayweather vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez – 2.2 Million PPV Buys
In at number four in of course another Floyd Mayweather fight, this time against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The fight did 2.2 million-pay-per-view buys as well as filling out the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The bout took place at a 152-pound catchweight, two pounds below Canelo’s light-middleweight limit at the time, and five pounds up from Mayweather’s welterweight limit. Even before taking into account the PPV sales, Mayweather took home a staggering $41.5 million for the fight.
The fight took place on September 14th, 2013 and has aged like a fine wine for Mayweather, who won the fight via majority decision. Canelo has gone on to be the biggest PPV star in boxing since Floyd’s retirement, so it comes as absolutely no surprise to see these two pay-per-view juggernauts featuring right at the top end of this list.
3. Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De la Hoya – 2.44 Million PPV Buys
As we embark on our top three highest grossing pay-per-view fights of all time, take a note that this is Mayweather’s third inclusion in the list and we haven’t even got to the top two yet.
This fight took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 5th, 2007 and reportedly did 2.44 million buys at the pay-per-view. In terms of the fight itself, Mayweather won via split decision, but it was definitely a close fight and one of the tougher ones in the career of Floyd Mayweather.
At the time, the fight was the most lucrative boxing match ever, with over $130 million in generated revenue for the fight. De La Hoya was a six-division champion, meanwhile Mayweather had won world title belts in four divisions.
It comes as no surprise whatsoever to see this fight kick-off the top three.
2. Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor – 4.3 Million PPV Buys
In at number two, yes, you guessed it, is yet another fight involving Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. He doesn’t get his nickname for nothing, with this fight against Conor McGregor generating 4.3 million pay-per-view buys. Quite a staggering number when you consider how many buys Mayweather’s other big nights had.
The fight itself was named ‘The Money Fight’ between the eleven-time, five-division boxing world champion and the two-division UFC champion. The fight took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and was set at 154-pounds – the light-middleweight limit in boxing.
This was technically McGregor’s professional boxing debut, so not a bad opponent to have your first fight against. The fight took place on August 26th, 2017 and it is widely reported that this was Mayweather’s highest payday, earning $280 million for this fight alone. McGregor himself earnt $130 million.
When the bell went, it was apparent that Mayweather was toying with McGregor in the opening rounds, before putting his foot on the gas and bringing the fight to the Irishman. Mayweather exhausted ‘Notorious’ before stopping him in the 10th round via TKO.
No prizes for guessing this fight made the top 10. No prizes for guessing what made number one too. So without further ado, here is number one on the list, the highest grossing play-per-view boxing fight in history…
1. Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao – 4.6 Million PPV Buys
On May 2nd, 2015 the fight that the whole boxing world had been talking about for around a decade was finally happening. Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao was on at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and the hype surrounding the fight was something quite special.
The fight sold over 4.6 million pay-per-views and was named the ‘Fight Of The Century’. Although the fight was considered one of the most anticipated sporting events in history, it was largely considered a bit of a let down by boxing fans and critics alike upon its broadcast.
Mayweather won the fight comprehensively, with scores of 116-112 on two judges’ scorecards, with the third judge ruling it 118-110 in favour of the Grand Rapids, Michigan man.
The who’s who of the celebrity world were in attendance for this fight, with Justin Bieber ever featuring as part of Mayweather’s entourage. Lewis Hamilton, Mike Tyson, Tom Brady, Bradley Cooper, Magic Johnson, Donald Trump and Robert De Niro are just some of the names who were ringside for this spectacular event.
Overall, in the top ten highest grossing pay-per-view fights in history, Mike Tyson features in four, with Floyd Mayweather featuring in five. The only fight neither Tyson or Mayweather featured in was of course Pacquiao vs Marquez 3, so it is clear to see who the two biggest PPV stars in the history of boxing are.