Every year between 2011 and 2018 Floyd Mayweather was the highest paid athlete in the world. No other athlete came close. To date, Floyd has earned over $1.1 BILLION during his career. At his peak, thanks to fights against Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor, Floyd was earning $200-300 million PER YEAR. His earnings would regularly be more than double – or even triple!!! – the second highest paid athlete in the world. For example, back in 2018 when Floyd earned $300 million, the second-highest earning athlete was Cristiano Ronaldo with $80 million.
And keep this in mind:
When Cristiano earned $80 million in 2018, roughly half million came from endorsements.
When Floyd earned $300 million, essentially ZERO came from endorsements.
But what's probably most impressive about Floyd's rise to absolute financial dominance in the sports world is the fact that none of it ever would have happened without one very simple, yet VERY risky gamble back in 2006.
Early Boxing Career
Between 1996 and 2006, Floyd Mayweather was represented by Bob Arum's Top Rank Boxing promotional company. In boxing, when you are signed with a promoter, you are basically an employee. You are offered a set amount of money to appear at a fight. The promoter puts up all the money and takes on all the risks to organize the fight. By taking on the risk, the promoter also reaps the biggest rewards. Whatever profits are left over after costs are paid off (including the cost to pay the fighters), would go straight to Bob Arum's pockets. That's how Bob Arum is worth $300 million today.
Having a promoter isn't necessarily a bad deal for a fighter. It's guaranteed money in your pocket with no risk at all. The only thing a fighter has to worry about is training and winning. Most boxers today work with a promoter. Even Manny Pacquiao.
Guess who promotes Manny? Bob Arum.
The Ultimate Gamble
Back in April 2006, Bob Arum offered Floyd $8 million to fight Antonio Margarito. It would have been double Floyd's previous highest purse. Instead of accepting, Floyd countered by saying he wanted $20 million to fight Oscar De La Hoya. Arum was stunned. Arum also didn't think that amount of money for Floyd to fight Oscar would pay off. So he declined and kept pushing the Margarito bout.
At this point, Floyd made the ultimate gamble. After spending 10 years working under Top rank, Floyd had the right to buy himself out of his contract to become a free agent. It wasn't a cheap proposition. In order to break free of Top Rank, Floyd had to pay Bob Arum $750,000.
It was a huge risk. What if he lost his next match? What if he got hurt and couldn't ever fight again? At the time, Floyd's total net worth didn't quite crack $5 million. A lot of money for mere mortals, but clearly not a lot for someone who changed his middle name to "Money."
So how did this gamble work out? Well, in November 2006, Floyd ended up earning $8 million to fight Carlos Baldomir. The win drummed up enough attention and hype to warrant a fight against Oscar De La Hoya. That fight took place in May 2007. Remember how Floyd wanted $20 million and Bob Arum thought he was crazy? He ended up earning $25 million on what became the highest revenue-producing fight in boxing history up to that point.
From that point on, Floyd really started raking in serious money. In 2013, he got his own promoter's license from the Nevada Gaming Commission. That allowed him to launch Mayweather Promotions and become his own boss.
Every single fight Floyd participated in from that point on was either 100% produced by Mayweather Promotions, or co-produced 50/50.
When his the solo producer, that means he fronts all the money for an event, including his opponent's purse.
When he fought Saul Alvarez in September 2013, Floyd cut him a $10 million check from his personal checking account weeks before the fight. Floyd also paid tens of millions of his own money to pay for the event space, the vendors, the food, beverages etc. That's the downside. The upside is when the fight was over, Floyd got the lion's share of profits. In the Alvarez fight, that meant Floyd walked away with $75 million.
The same math is true with both the Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor fights. When he fought Manny, Floyd fronted all costs to organize the event and cut Manny a $50 million guaranteed check to show up. When the night was over, Floyd will got 60% of the profits. Floyd earned $250 million from this one fight alone.
When he fought Conor McGregor on August 26, 2017, Floyd used the same formula and ended up earning…
Total it all up and Floyd Mayweather's career earnings to date are $1.1 billion. For comparison, prior to 2006 when he was still working under Bob Arum, Floyd's total career earnings were less than $10 million.
And to think, none of this would have been possible if Floyd didn't have the foresight and guts back in 2006 to buy himself out of his contract for $750,000.
So what's the lesson here? Well, as with any business venture, if you want to get really really really rich, you can't be an employee. You need to be an owner!