Only one other fighter joins Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez on Forbes’ 2023 list of the World’s Highest Paid Athletes.
Boxing is a business. It’s a phrase fans hear all the time, more often than not to justify some frustration or delay.
Whilst the intervention from the Middle East and its deep pockets has magnified the money, it’s always been the case that the sporting activity has been matched or overshadowed by the corporate side of things.
Purses on the prize-fighting scene continue to be eye-watering, so there’s no real surprise that a couple of boxers have landed in Forbes magazine’s trademark issue.
Canelo is listed at an impressive number five. He’s only beaten to the top spot by Lebron James, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, and number one, Cristiano Ronaldo – a man who, like many boxing stars, has also benefited from Saudi’s sporting goals.
Whilst it wasn’t a statement year in terms of performances in the ring for the Mexican – a loss to Dmitry Bivol up at light heavyweight and an unspectacular win over old rival, Gennady Golovkin – it was good for his bank balance. Interestingly, he’s got there without the involvement of the Middle East.
Forbes lists the current undisputed super middleweight champion’s earnings as $110 million, highlighting of course his fight purses but also pointing to savvy investments outside the ropes that include gas stations in Mexico, a taco restaurant and a clothing line. His brand partnership with Hennessy helps too.
The only other fighter to feature is two-time world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua. He’s ranked just over halfway down the list at number 28 – seven places behind his countryman, Lewis Hamilton.
His is a joint entry, the $53 million earned being matched by golfer Jon Rahm, NFL star Aaron Rodgers and Liverpool FC ace Mohamed Salah.
It was also a year to forget in terms of Joshua’s record, his sole fight of 2022 being a second loss to Oleksandr Usyk to put him firmly out of the title picture for the first time in a long time. He managed a victory on April 1 of this year against America’s Jermaine Franklin.
Contributing to ‘AJ’s financial success was a longterm deal with media giant, DAZN, which now broadcasts his fights exclusively. He also earns from sponsorship deals with the likes of Under Armour, LYNX and Audemars Piguet.
Joshua has fought twice in Saudi Arabia and been paid handsomely to do so. He’s expected out there again in December for a mega-money clash with Deontay Wilder that will, regardless of the result, no doubt see him on this list next year.