Boxers don't earn a regular salary, but rather a purse for each fight. The pay for professional boxers varies widely. The boxer's manager negotiates the purse in the contract on a case-by-case basis before the fight. Pay ranges from a couple of hundred dollars to millions of dollars per fight and is highest for popular fighters in televised and title fights.
Annual earnings also depend on the number of times a boxer fights in a year. If he's injured in a fight, he may have to withdraw from fights or be unable to enter fights, hurting a his future earnings.
Minimum Boxer Pay
Since boxers aren't employees, their earnings are not subject to any minimum wage laws. Many professional boxers don't earn enough to live on and may need additional employment. For example, at the low end of professional boxer pay, if a boxer fights 12 times per year and earns only $200 per fight, he'll bring in only $2,400 per year.
This is far less than the average income for all professional athletes. As of 2012, the median annual pay for athletes was $40,060 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Top boxers, however, earn far more than this.
Elite Boxer Income
Despite the low pay for many profession boxers, top boxers earn millions of dollars per fight. For example, in May 2013, Floyd Mayweather earned a guaranteed $32 million for his fight against Robert Guerrero. Guerrero only received $3 million guaranteed for the same fight.
Mayweather went on to earn $75 million in his September 2013 fight against Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez recieved $12 million for the fight. In 2015, Mayweather earned $150 million for his fight with Manny Pacquiao, who earned $100 million for the fight.
Professional Boxer Purse Examples
The purses for other fights on the same card as the Mayweather-Guerrero fight in May 2013 ranged from $60,000 to $375,000 for the title fight. Many boxers earn far less. For example, in February of 2014, Chris Algieri earned $15,000 for his fight against Emmanuel Taylor. In January of 2011, Lonnie Smith earned only $800 for his bout with Jose Gomez, who pulled in $1,800.
Additional Income for Boxers
Depending on boxers' contracts ,they may also earn a percentage of the revenue from pay-per-view for televised fights. These earnings are difficult to predict, because a boxer's percentage is usually undisclosed and and pay-per-view purchases are unknown before the fight. For the 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, the boxers earned an estimated $100 million each from pay-per-view purchases. The cable companies and television networks received the remaining pay-per view income.
Boxers may also receive additional income from sponsors. Some companies may pay boxers in exchange for endorsing a product or wearing a company logo during a fight. Again, the amount earned is negotiated in a contract and varies based on factors like the fighter's popularity, the size of the fight audience and whether the fight is televised.
Expenses for Boxers
Since boxers aren't employees of the boxing commissions that host the fights, they pay their own expenses. In addition to living expenses, fighters must pay their own insurance, travel and training costs. These amounts vary based on factors including where the boxer lives and the distance to the fight.
Boxers typically pay trainers 10 percent of their purse. For example, if a boxer earns $1,000 in a fight, he would pay his trainer $100.
A percentage of each purse goes to the boxer's manager as well. The amount varies by state and agreement. In Nevada, for example, managers receive one-third of the boxer's purse. From a $1,000 purse, the boxer would owe his manager approximately $333. Although this may seem high, the manager works for the boxer to negotiate fight contracts and to find sponsors.
Become a Professional Boxer
If you're ready to test your skills and tolerate uncertain pay, you can become a professional boxer. You must be physically fit, in good health and skilled at boxing techniques. An amateur boxer can move to professional fights when he and his trainer decide he's ready.
Check with your state's athletic board to determine licensing requirements. For example, Nevada, required an application along with a copy of your amateur record, two passport photos, identification and a $25 fee, as of 2015. You must also pass medical testing including:
- Physical exam
- HIV test
- Dilated ophthalmologic examination
- Brain MRI