For a long time, boxing was an affordable sport. Modern-day boxing was popularized by poor, lower-class, young men who had to fight to make a living. All you need was a pair of gloves and a big heart and you could start training and fighting.
Today, however, there are many rules, regulations, practices, prices that make getting into and/or watching boxing quite expensive.
Why are fights so expensive?
Entertainment. Excitement. An appetite for violence. All things that contribute to making PPVs (PayPerViews) expensive and rightfully so. From a business standpoint, this makes complete sense, promotional companies will set their prices at what they feel the general public is willing to pay. And frankly, people are willing to pay extortionate prices to witness great boxing because as a boxing fan, there is nothing else that is as exciting as watching two of the best boxers trade punches in a ring.Embed from Getty Images
The notion of fighting is as old as time itself, humans have been fighting since our existence, we’re inclined to gravitate towards competition of this nature. How many people do you think would be willing to pay $100 to watch football or basketball or cricket on TV? Probably not many. But in 2017 we watched 4.3 million pay $89.95-99.95 to watch someone who had never boxed professionally in Conor Mcgregor take on Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather because of how much people were invested in the fight.
This table shows the 10 biggest fights in boxing history and their PPV prices:
|Fight||PPV buys||PPV price|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao||4.6 million||$59.95USD|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Conor McGregor||4.3 million||$89.95-99.95USD|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Oscar De La Hoya||2.48 million||$55USD|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr Canelo Alvarez||2.2 million||$65-75USD|
|Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield 2||1.99 million||$49.95|
|Mike Tyson vs Lennox Lewis, 1.97 million, $54.95||1.97 million||$54.95|
|Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr||1.65 million||$49.99|
|Mike Tyson vs Peter McNeely||1.55 million||$50-60USD|
|Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto, 1.5 million, $59.95-69.95USD||1.5 million||$59.95-69.95USD|
|Evander Holyfield vs George Foreman||1.45 million||$34.95USD|
From this, we can work out that the average price for a big PPV fight is $81.96 which is definitely expensive, however, many people were willing to pay these prices as shown by the results above, and as long as the demand for fights is there (which it always will be!) promotional companies will continue to charge what they feel people are willing to pay.
One way to get around this problem is to join a subscription-based service like DAZN, a relatively new company that has gained a lot of popularity quickly thanks to its neat system and excellent formatting.
These types of subscriptions have gained popularity among those who watch a lot of sports/boxing. If you are a boxing fanatic, then it definitely better value for money to be on a subscription. However, if you only occasionally watch fights, maybe once or twice a year then PPV is probably cheaper.
So What is PayPerView?
PPV is the system that most broadcasting companies use when showing big fights. As the name suggests, whoever wants to watch the fight, whether a bar, restaurant, or an individual, has to pay in order to watch. Most fights that are put on this system are high-profile, these are the fights that everyone tunes in to watch. Smaller fights are typically only watched by boxing fanatics but these big PPV events break into the general public which is why they generate much more revenue.
Live-Gates and Boxing Venues
While PPV is expensive, it is far less than the amount you pay to watch a big fight live at a venue. Tickets to these events start at around $100 and average at $200 per person. However, they can far surpass this number and even cost thousands of dollars for a single seat, in fact, the most expensive seat for Mayweather vs Pacquaio cost an astonishing $141,000.
To put into context the amount of money that is generated from these fights, shown below is a table that shows the top 10 biggest live-gate boxing events in Las Vegas via the State of Nevada Athletic Commission.
|Fight||Venue||Paid Attendance||Gross Sales|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Emmanuel Pacquaio||MGM||16,219||$72,198,500.00|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Conor McGregor||T-Mobile||13,094||$55,414,865.79|
|Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin||T-Mobile||17,318||$27,059,850.00|
|Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin II||T-Mobile||13,732||$24,473,500.00|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Canelo Alvarez||MGM||16,146||$20,003,150.00|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Oscar De La Hoya||MGM||15,432||$18,419,200.00|
|Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder||MGM||15,210||$16,916,440.00|
|Lennox Lewis vs Evander Holyfield II||Thomas and Mack||17,078||$16,860,300.00|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Marcos Maidana||MGM||15,718||$15,024,400.00|
|Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Marcos Maidana II||MGM||14,859||$14,899,150.00|
Seats are expensive for the same reason as PPVs, people want to watch people fight, and the additional liberty of watching the fight live from the arena means that the prices will be even steeper.
Holistically speaking, boxers don’t make extraordinary amounts, in 2018 the average fighter salary was recorded at $35,584 via work.chron.com which doesn’t seem like much for a professional athlete. However, this is because most fighters aren’t on a PPV system (where they take a commission for the number of buys they are able to generate). However, on the upper end of the spectrum, fighters are rewarded generously for the value they bring to these events.
Looking at the top of the PPV table, its clear to see there are two recurring names in Floyd Mayweather Jr and Mike Tyson. Both of them are big personalities outside the ring which leads to their massive payouts for fights. Tyson was estimated to have earned over $300 million throughout his career and Mayweather even surpassed the $1 billion mark. For fighters that have a household name, a large chunk of money is guaranteed to them before the fight or any PPV buys because of their track record of producing PPV sales. Ultimately, boxing is a combat sport and high-level boxers are prizefighters, so when they have a fanbase and a big name, they are generously rewarded for the risk they take. This means that promotional companies and broadcasters have to set their prices at a point where they know they’ll be able to make profits even after covering the payouts of the fighters.
Gambling can be looked at as an “expense” in boxing providing that you lose money on your bet but this is the same as with any other betting sport. However, while it may be associated with boxing or an indirect implication, it can’t be looked at as a cost because it ultimately comes down to a choice.
Gambling is an addictive activity, the notion of winning easy money at a small price is incredibly attractive on the surface but incurs significant risk. However, we’re not writing this to lecture about whether gambling is good or bad but rather that it is potentially another expense associated with watching boxing.
Boxing equipment isn’t actually all that expensive, it costs around $40 for a pair of good gloves and maybe $100 for a heavy bag. This setup is perfectly fine for someone who is just training for fun or as an exercise. However, if you were taking boxing seriously, you would need lessons and a coach. The average cost of boxing lessons is $80 to $180 per month via legendsboxing.com which comes up to $960 per year on the lower end of the spectrum and $2160 per year for the upper end.
I personally think this is good value, providing that you have a good trainer and gym. By going to an actual boxing gym you’ll be able to learn much more from many people, training at home is good but still limited when it comes to learning boxing. When you’re starting, you’ll need advice from your trainer on how to properly throw punches, set up your stance, protect yourself, etc, and while you can slowly teach yourself these things, its much more effective working with someone else.