How Floyd Mayweather Became the World's Richest Athlete

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has said he will be stepping into the boxing ring for the final time on Saturday night. After the fight with Andre Berto in Las Vegas—in which Mayweather hopes to retain his undefeated record and finish his career with a 49-0 wins-losses ratio—Mayweather will have to find a new hobby to pass the time. Perhaps counting his exorbitant wealth would keep him occupied.

Mayweather is rich. Very rich, in fact. He has been ranked as the world's highest-paid athlete by business magazine Forbes for four consecutive years since 2012. Forbes estimated Mayweather to have earned $300 million between June 2014 and June 2015, almost double that made by second-place Manny Pacquiao, whom the former defeated in a record-breaking fight in May this year. Mayweather's 2015 earnings don't even include the full takings from the blockbuster showdown with Pacquiao, from which he is expected to earn more than $200 million all told.

As of June, Mayweather is estimated to have a net worth of $650 million. The fighter is taking a big pay cut for his final bout with Berto—he is expected to get a minimum guarantee of $32 million, without factoring in monies earned from pay per view (PPV) sales. Some speculate that he could finish his career with a tidy $1 billion in total earnings. So how did he make so much money?

Mayweather began his professional career in 1996—prior to that he had been an amateur boxer, and actually lost several fights including at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where he was a bronze medallist. For the first 10 years of his career, Mayweather was managed by boxing promoters Top Rank, but as his reputation and his unbeaten record grew, so did his financial aspirations.

In 2006, Mayweather paid $750,000 to buy himself out of his Top Rank contract and began managing his own fights. The decision turned out to be the best he ever made: In his next fight, with Carlos Baldomir, Mayweather banked a career-record $8 million in earnings. However, his big reward came the following year, when he fought six-division champion Oscar De La Hoya. The fight, which Mayweather won on a split-decision, earned him $25 million, and was the first of 10 straight fights which earned him at least $25 million each. Fittingly, it was in the run-up to the De La Hoya bout that the undefeated boxer christened himself with the nickname "Money."

From that moment, the money kept rolling in. The boxer set up his own company, Mayweather Promotions, which currently has another 12 fighters on its books beyond the man himself, and is the highest-earning promotional company in boxing. Mayweather has also participated in a number of extracurricular activities which boosted his bank balance. In 2007, the fleet-footed boxer appeared on the U.S. TV show Dancing with the Stars, where he met billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, with whom he reportedly shared lunch every day during the series to share business strategies. "He has always wanted to pick the brains of the billionaires," Leonard Ellerbe, who is the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, told Black Enterprise website. "Everybody else spent their time going to various places to eat. [Mayweather] and I sat in the next trailer with Mark Cuban every day. That was just always his mindset." In 2008, the boxer also embarked on a brief career of cameos in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), earning a reported $20 million for an appearance at Wrestlemania 2008.

All of this is small fry, however, compared with Money's big pay-day when he fought Pacquiao earlier this year. The "Fight of the Century," as it was billed, broke numerous financial records, including registering 4.4 million PPV buys in the U.S. alone and generating $73 million in gate receipts. Forbes estimates the fight will generate $600 million once everything is counted up. Finally, Saturday's fight against Berto will be the last of a six-fight deal signed in 2013 with U.S. TV network Showtime, which guaranteed the boxer at least $32 million per fight.

If Mayweather does hang up his gloves after Saturday—some speculate that he will be tempted to go for a 50-0 win, thereby breaking Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record—he won't have to worry about his retirement fund. Billionaire Cuban told Forbes in 2010: "I don't think people realize just how focused he is on being more successful outside the ring than he is inside."