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Inequality in Boxing Purses: Breakdown

Money has always been an important part of boxing. So important in fact, that when Jack Broughton codified the first seven rules of the sport the fifth was dedicated to how the two contestants were to split the purse. There’s a reason it is also known as prize-fighting.

As important as money is to the boxers, and as much as fans seem interested in the subject, most reporting on that aspect has been solely focused on what the biggest names are making in the biggest bouts. Just as what the highest paid executive at a company make doesn’t tell us much about how the typical worker is doing, neither does knowing how big Canelo Alvarez or Anthony Joshua’s purse is tells us much about how much the typical journeymen, club boxer, or professional opponent is making. This article is an attempt to correct that.

For this post I requested all the boxing payouts from bouts held between December 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019 from the following state athletic commissions: Arizona, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. They in turn supplied me with the purse info on every fight held in their states over that six-month period.

A small handful of the purses were either missing from the documents the commission sent me, or the handwriting was completely illegible. In the end, I had 1,225 usable payouts in total to work with, representing approximately 30% of the professional bout purses that were paid in the United States during this six-month timeframe. The amounts paid ranged from as low as $0 to as high as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s $35,000,000.


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