When we’re competing, whether it’s in a sport, an exam, a video game or whatever, we naturally think of coming first as the ultimate goal. This is especially the case in a one versus one situation, where someone wins and the other loses. However, while losing might damage your pride, it can be just as lucrative as taking first place.
Boxing is big business, with huge revenues coming from ticket sales, pay per view, online betting, and multiple other sources. It is also known for the huge winnings that top athletes take home from the biggest, most publicised matches. However, unlike most other sports, the prize purses in boxing are usually decided before a match takes place. This means that win or lose, the athletes already know how much they are guaranteed to earn from a fight.
These purses are often supplemented by revenue from pay per view and ticket sales, meaning that the competitors will likely take home substantially more than the agreed winnings. It just goes to show that you can still be a winner without coming first every time.
As boxers have their minimum earnings agreed before a match takes place, we wanted to find out which boxing athletes have received the largest guaranteed purses, despite not winning the fight.
Having looked at 50 of the biggest boxing clashes, we’ve found which fights had the biggest payouts for the losing side. We’ve adjusted these amounts for inflation to identify which purses would be worth the most in today’s money. Here’s our top three:
Loser - Oscar De La Hoya
Loser Purse - $21,000,000
Dubbed “The Fight of the Millennium”, this late-90s showdown between WBC world champion Oscar De La Hoya and IBF world champion Félix Trinidad was an immense clash of two world-class fighters in their prime. This hotly contested fight lasted twelve full rounds, with the winner being declared by majority decision. However, this result was controversial at the time, with many fans and commentators calling the judges’ scorecards into question.
Either way, De La Hoya left the match with the most valuable guaranteed loser’s purse on record, more than double Trinidad’s $8,500,000 purse.
Loser - Conor McGregor
Loser Purse - $30,000,000
Known as “The Money Fight”, the amount each fighter was guaranteed certainly lives up to the moniker. This unorthodox matchup between UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor and the undefeated five-division boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. saw colossal minimum purses for both contestants.
McGregor’s $30,000,000 was actually dwarfed by Mayweather’s guaranteed $100,000,000, and both men went on to take home more than double their minimum purses once earnings from additional sources such as pay per view were accounted for.
Loser - Michael Spinks
Loser Purse - $13,500,000
Billed as “Once and for All”, this all-American clash of two undefeated champions would decide who would claim the title of undisputed heavyweight champion. With “Iron Mike” Mike Tyson going up against “Jinx” Michael Spinks, this widely anticipated meeting of fists would last only 91 seconds, as Tyson launched at Spinks from the get-go to claim a first round victory by knockout.
Spinks’ purse was a handsome $13.5 million, which in today’s money is just under $30.5 million, and was more than all the other purses of his career combined.
We wanted to find out which fights had the largest minimum prize purses for losing fighters. To do this, we looked at data for fights that generated over
Once we had a list of fights to look at, we searched various websites and online sources such as BoxRec, Bleacher Report, and Wikipedia to find details of each fight’s prize purses. We were only looking for the minimum guaranteed earnings or the “base purse”, which didn’t include additional income from pay-per-view or ticket sales.
When we found all of the losing fighters’ purses we adjusted their values for inflation, using US Inflation Calculator for USD values and the Bank of England Inflation Calculator for GBP values. All adjusted GBP values were then converted into USD using xe.com so that the value of all purses could be compared on equal terms and ranked accordingly.
Data correct as of 26th May 2021.