The Most Watched Boxing Matches Ever

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Since the introduction – and especially the start of the broadcasting – of boxing, there have been massive fights.

When we hear boxing, we can’t help but think of some of the great names in the sport, such as Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray, and more. Even Youtubers are getting in the ring (you can bet on MMA joining this trend).

But have you ever wondered which of these fighters managed to pull the biggest viewer numbers to their fights? When we say ‘most watched’, it can mean one of two things: one, the match had the most spectators in the arena at the time it happened, and two, the match had the most viewers in terms of broadcast than any other. Today we’re looking at the matches with the highest number of broadcasts since it extends far beyond the capacity of any stadium.

We are simply working with the PPV – Pay Per View – numbers of these fights since it is hard to measure viewers any other way.

So, let’s begin.


5. Mike Tyson V Lennox Lewis – 2002

Taking place on 8 June 2002 at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee, Lewis-Tyson brought one of the biggest fights to screens and fans all around the world.

Originally scheduled for 6 April, the fight had to move due to a press conference brawl between Lewis and Tyson, leaving Nevada to refuse Tyson’s licence. The pre-fight records of these two boxing giants included a 39-2-1 for Lewis, and a record 49-3-0-2 for Tyson. At the time, Tyson was also the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, while Lewis stepped into the ring as the WBC, IBF, IBO, and The Ring Heavyweight Champion.

With a crowd of 15 327 and roughly 1 950 000 pay per view buys, the number of people watching the fight was unrivalled at the time.

After a massive display of firepower from both sides, Lewis managed to land a powerful right cross, knocking Tyson to the canvas for the second time in the round. Lewis then won the fight by KO as the referee counted Tyson out.

The fight received Knockout of the Year by The Ring Magazine for 2002.


4. Floyd Mayweather V Canelo Alvarez – 2013

The first Mayweather fight standing as one of the biggest of all time, was his bout against Canelo Alvarez in 2013. This highly anticipated fight titled ‘The One’ was a boxing light middleweight championship super fight.

The fight took place at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and secured roughly 2 200 000 Pay Per View buys. Dominated by Mayweather, the fight ended in a majority decision. One of the judges, C. J. Ross, retired from scoring after being widely criticised for his controversial scoring of a draw for the fight.


3. Floyd Mayweather V Oscar De La Hoya - 2007

Taking place at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya generated an estimated $130 million in revenue. Titled ‘The World Awaits’, it was set to be a spectacle from the announcement date.

Before the fight, Mayweather stood as the undefeated four-division champion, while De La Hoya stood as a six-division world champion. The fight would be for the title of WBC Super Welterweight.

Racking up roughly 2 480 000 sales on Pay Per View and selling out within three hours of the tickets going live, the fight stood as the biggest fight in terms of viewers and revenue generated at the time.

After a massive 12 rounds of intense fighting, Mayweather won the fight by split decision to become the WBC Super Welterweight Champion.


2. Floyd Mayweather V Conor McGregor – 2017

It’s hard not to have heard about the fight between Floyd Mayweather and the Notorious Conor McGregor. After a massive build-up and uncertainty regarding whether the fight would ever take place, it eventually happened, securing roughly 4 300 000 Pay Per View buys and took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada.

At the time, Mayweather was the undefeated eleven-time five-division boxing world champion, and McGregor was the UFC Lightweight Champion and a two-division MMA World Champion.

Mayweather went on to win the fight after the referee called it due to McGregor not defending himself. This fight secured Mayweather’s 50th win and turning his record into one of 50-0, an as-of-yet unrivalled record.


1. Mayweather V Pacquiao – 2015

While some might have thought the fight between McGregor and Mayweather would take the lead, Mayweather-Pacquiao was the one to secure the title as most watched boxing match ever, outselling the Mayweather-McGregor fight by roughly 300 000 Pay Per View buys.

Billed as the Battle for Greatness and the Fight of the Century, the fight between these two boxing giants shook the world. The fight took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada, with the WBA (Unified), WBC, WBO, and The Ring welterweight titles on the line.

Despite the record-breaking sales and viewing numbers, many critics felt the fight didn’t meet the expectations of the hype.

Regardless, Mayweather went on to win the fight by unanimous decision. The three scorecards totalled 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110.

And there you have it: the most watched boxing matches of all time, their fighters, and the results.


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