Canelo Alvarez, Conor McGregor and Jake Paul all feature in the list of the highest-earners in fighting in 2021.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, combat sports enjoyed a bumper year of action with McGregor fighting twice, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder completing their trilogy and Floyd Mayweather appearing in an exhibition bout against Logan Paul.
Nobody made more headlines than Paul though, who continued to make his mark in boxing by beating Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley twice.
Paul’s influence in the sport is impossible to ignore and he ranks in the top five highest-paid fighters of last year.
So too does his brother, Logan. The Paul brothers divide opinion but they know how to make money.
Top 10 highest-earners in 2021
Here’s the top 10, per the Mirror.
10. Billy Joe Saunders | £5.7 million
Saunders earned his biggest purse to date when he took on Alvarez in Texas.
The Brit put up a solid effort but was pulled after the seventh round after an uppercut from Alvarez left him with a fractured eye socket.
9. Dustin Poirier | £7.2 million
Poirier earned the bulk of his earnings from his two fights against McGregor, both of which he won.
The American collected over £3m in the first fight on ‘Fight Island’ and a projected £3.7m when he beat the Irishman again at UFC 264.
8. Deontay Wilder | £8.2 million
Wilder’s blockbuster duel against Fury in October netted him more than £8 million.
It was a fitting end to the iconic trilogy.
7. Tyson Fury | £13 million
Boxing fans will hope Fury is more active in 2022.
The WBC heavyweight champion is facing a mandatory bout against Dillian Whyte, although a unification fight against Oleksandr Usyk is the dream contest.
=5. Anthony Joshua | £15 million
Joshua may have lost his belts to Usyk but his bank balance stays winning.
The Brit is keen to face Usyk again in a rematch which will earn him another hefty purse.
=5. Logan Paul | £15 million
Paul received a guaranteed £7m following his exhibition fight against Mayweather and estimated pay-per-view sales take his earnings to £15m.
Mayweather barely broke a sweat but he did praise Paul afterwards, saying: “He’s better than I thought he was… he’s a tough, rough competitor.”
4. Jake Paul | £31 million
Say what you like about Jake Paul but boy did he do well in 2021.
The 24-year-old social media personality-turned-boxer recorded knockout wins against Askren and twice against Woodley.
His first bout against Woodley saw him earn over £10m after PPV sales, and the way he’s headed – he’s called out a host of fighters, including Conor McGregor – there are more lucrative paydays to come.
Imagine not winning in an entire year and still earning more than £36m.
UFC star McGregor remains the promotion’s biggest draw and, despite losing twice to Poirier, his projected earnings from the trilogy event were a monstrous £22m.
2. Floyd Mayweather | £48.2 million
They call him ‘Money’ for a reason, and Mayweather demonstrated it last year by collecting an estimated £48.2m simply through one exhibition bout that lasted eight rounds.
1. Canelo Alvarez | £65.7 million
In top spot – and deserving of that – is Alvarez, who became the undisputed super-middleweight world champion in 2021.
The Mexican fought three times, beating Avni Yildirim, Saunders and Caleb Plant. His history-making win over Plant netted him a huge £29.6m.