Floyd May­weather Ca­reer Earn­ings Can Hit $1 Bil­lion With McGre­gor Fight

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY KURT BADENHAUSEN, FORBES STAFF

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 awaits 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 “sub-

stan­tial” 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 TMT-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.

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