10 Most Watched PPV Boxing Fights of All-Time

The PPV fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather shot straight to the top of the rankings when it comes to PPV buys. In fact, Mayweather has been in five of the top 10. Mike Tyson has featured in four of them. The only bout without the two of them is Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya going at it in 1999.

10. Felix Trinidad vs Oscar De La Hoya – 1.4 Million (1999)

Trinidad vs De La Hoya

A fight that pitted De La Hoya, undefeated at 31-0, with the WBC Welterweight title, against FelixTrinidad, 36-0, and the IBF champion at the weight. A very close fight, the last of the so-called superfights in the 20th century, dominated early by De La Hoya, who looked exhausted by the the ninth round. Trinidad was the chaser and aggressor in the final rounds, but didn’t manage to land any big hits. However, he won the fight on a controversial majority decision 115–113, 115–114, 114–114. At the time, it was the most watched non-heavyweight PPV fight.

9. Floyd Mayweather vs Shane Mosley – 1.4 Million (2010)

Mayweather vs Mosley

At the time, it was called the most anticipated welterweight matchup since Sugar Ray Leonard stopped Thomas Hearns in the 14th round in 1981, although it wasn’t the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight many wanted. Mosley was 38 at the time, with five losses on his record. He did manage to be one of the few to actually put Mayweather in trouble with two big rights in the second round, but Mayweather picked up the pace from the non out, winning in a unanimous decision 119-109, 119-109, 118-108. It was also the first fight in the United States to go under Olympic drug testing.

8. Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto – 1.5 Million (2012)

Mayweather vs Cotto

A fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather continued to be ducked by either men for money or drug or something else, so fighting Miguel Cotto at 154 for Cotto’s Light Middleweight title was the best thing he could have taken a short while before heading to prison in Las Vegas. Cotto, as most who fight Mayweather, was backed by the fans, and was even able to get some blood dripping out of Mayweather’s nose, but that was close as he got, in another dominant performance from Mayweather, winning by a UD of 117–111, 117–111, 118–110.

7. Mike Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley – 1.57 Million (1995)

This one didn't last very long
This one didn’t last very long

For his first fight in over four years, Tyson chose McNeely, who was 36-1 at the time, but not really someone who posed any threat to any of the top dogs in the diminishing Heavyweight division. The fight lasted only 89 seconds with Tyson earning an easy victory via disqualification. McNelly was dropped less than 10 seconds in the fight. After the fight continued and a short exchange, he was dropped again, his manager Vinnie Vecchione entered the ring to prevent McNeeley from taking any more damage, ending the fight.

6. Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson – 1.59 Million (1996)

One of the knockdowns
One of the knockdowns

The first fight between the two, five years too late. Tyson was defending the WBA heavyweight title he won a couple of months earlier, while Holyfield was attempting to become the first fighter since Muhammad Ali to regain the heavyweight championship twice. In what was then considered an upset victory, Holyfield dominated Tyson with clever counterpunching and keeping Tyson on his backfoot for most of the fight, including knocking him down once. As the fight progressed, Holyfield was on the verge of knocking out Tyson numerous times, until it was stopped in the 11th round, giving Holyfield the TKO victory.

5. Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson – 1.97 Million (2002)

Lewis vs Tyson

A fight that occurred in Memphis because Las Vegas rejected the fight and several other states refused Tyson a license. While Tyson managed to remain in the fight for the first five rounds that included several warnings to both fighters for headbutting and pushing, he weakened and tired from that moment, and was knocked down twice in the eighth round, never getting up from the second blow.

4. Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II – 1.99 Million (1997)

The bite
The bite

The rematch between the two heavyweight was probably the moment that signaled the end for Mike Tyson’s career, even though it carried on for a few more year. The fight didn’t last more than three rounds, as Holyfield easily dominated a frustrated Mike Tyson, who decided that biting his opponents is the best course of action. Some say he was afraid to carry on fighting, although Tyson initially claimed it was a retaliation for headbutting. Tyson was caught biting for a second time in the third round, causing a disqualification and a long brawl inside the ring between the corners.

3. Floyd Mayweather vs Saul “Canelo” Alvarez – 2.2 Million (2013)

Mayweather vs Canelo

Alvarez did go in undefeated into the fight, but the young Mexican fighter, enjoying a big advantage in size, wasn’t fast or clever enough in the ring against a much better boxer, never really being able to penetrate Mayweather’s defense. The scorecards gave Mayweather a weird majority decision, with one ringside judge scoring it 114-114 for some reason, while the others gave it a 116-112, and 117-111.

2. Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya – 2.4 Million (2007)

Mayweather vs De La Hoya

Maybe the numbers were a little higher (Depends on who you listen to), touching on 2.5 million. It doesn’t matter. This is the second most watched PPV fight in history, and the one that passed the crowd of biggest box office draw from De La Hoya to Mayweather, winning it by split decision 116–112, 115–113, 113–115. De La Hoya retired 18 months later after losing to Manny Pacquiao, not wanting to go on past the 8th round.

1. Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao – 4.4 Million (2015)

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

The May 2 fight that blew all the records away, at least financially. The fight generated just 4.5 million PPV buys, almost twice as much as the next most watched fight. Just goes to show that hype a fight long enough, and you’ll make money off of it, with the PPV price going at $100 for this bout. Mayweather dominated for most of the fight and especially in the later rounds, winning it by unanimous decision 116-112, 116-112, 118-110. There were plenty of critical reactions to the quality of the fight, but that’s how all Mayweather fights end up. With him winning, hardly hurt, and with everyone left disappointed.

Overall, the fight generated over $410 million in TV revenue, while in the Philippines, it’s estimated that the fight was watched across the three-network consortium by 46.9% of Filipino households. Combining all revenue streams, including ticket sales ($72 million), international broadcast sales ($35 million or more), closed-circuit broadcasts in bars ($13 million), sponsorships ($12 million), and merchandise ($1 million) puts this fight’s revenue at over $500 million.

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