Mayweather and Pacquiao Topping Highest-Paid Althlete List Shows Boxing Not Dead

Mick AkersAnalyst IJune 19, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05:  Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates after defeating Miguel Cotto by unanimous decision during their WBA super welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 5, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The one thing everyone hears when it comes to boxing these days is that it's a dead or dying sport. Yet evidence keeps piling up that suggests otherwise, and nothing is as evident as boxing's two biggest stars, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, sitting atop Forbes' highest-paid athletes in the world list.

Mayweather is No. 1 on the list, raking in a whopping $85 million for his two fights. Pacquiao sits well under "Money May," pulling $62 million for his two bouts.

Although both Mayweather and Pacquiao only had two fights a piece in the time period the list is comprised—between June 2011 and June 2012—they were still able to outgain the next closest athlete, golfer Tiger Woods, who earned $59.4 million.

Making Mayweather's earnings even more astounding is that he doesn't have a single endorsement, so his $85 million was made solely in the ring.

If anyone wants to say boxing is a dying sport, all they have to do is look at Forbes' list and see that two boxers are the best-paid athletes in the world. That wouldn't be possible without a heavy fanbase following the sport.

Only to support the fighters' monetary gains, the pay-per-view numbers of their last four fights also suggest that boxing is alive and well.

Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz last September netted a solid 1.25 million buys (per Ring Magazine), and his bout with Miguel Cotto this past May netted even more with 1.5 million PPV buys (per ESPN).

Pacquiao's two fights over the past year were also big number-earners. His bout with Juan Manuel Marquez last November compiled 1.4 million buys (per ABS-CBN News). The PPV numbers for Pacman's highly controversial loss to Timothy Bradley are not out at this time, but Pacquiao was guaranteed $26 million according to ESPN and could net more than that depending on the pay-per-view numbers.

If boxing is a dying sport, these recent PPVs and purses that Mayweather and Pacquiao have earned clearly suggest otherwise. All of the "dying talk" needs to stop, as boxing is clearly alive and well for the moment.