On Saturday, May 2, the two biggest draws active in the sport of boxing will finally square off in a fight that is six-years in the making. Undefeated five-division champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. will face off against the pride of the Philippines, eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao. Expectations for the buy rate have ranged from 2.5 million to 3 million and beyond, and it should generate well over $300 million dollars in total revenue, making it one of, if not the, single largest grossing sporting events in history.

With all the hype and anticipation finally coming to an end in three-days time, let’s take a look at who the top selling pay-per-views of boxing’s modern era, and you be the judge of where Mayweather vs. Pacquiao will fall come fight night.

Spoiler alter: Mayweather appears three times, same as Evander Holyfield, but Mike Tyson makes the list the most with four of his fights.

10. Oscar De La Hoya vs. Félix Trinidad

Starting off our list that set the pay-per-view record for non-heayweight fights. On Sep. 18, 1999, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Félix Trinidad would garner  1.4 million buys and was being referred to as the last superfight of the 20th century (official billing was “The Fight of the Millennium”). While the bout didn’t live up to the hype in excitement, it did prove little guys can sell, and helped pave the way for the stars we have today.

9. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Shane Mosely

Up next is a fight that was 10 years in the making. On May 1, 2010, Mayweather would score a unanimous decision victory over Shane Mosely, and secure the lineal welterwight title in the process. The buy rate was over 1.4 million, generate $78.3 million, over half of which went into Money’s pockets.

8. Evander Holyfield vs. George Foreman

Coming in at No. 8 is a heavyweight showdown billed as “Battle of the Ages.” The event took place on April 19, 1991, and while the fight went the distance with the younger Evander Holyfield taking the torch from the legend George Foreman, the 7th round is considered one of the best in the history of boxing. The fight also made a lot of people very rich, with a buy rate of 1.45 million PPVs.

7. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Miguel Cotto

On May 5, 2012, the second most recent bout on this list, Mayweather would score another victory to his unfettered record over Miguel Cotto, winning the WBA Super Welterweight title as well. Mayweather had previously fought at 154-lbs against Oscar De La Hoya, and this outing did not disappoint in earnings drawing 1.5 million PPV buys.

6. Mike Tyson vs. Peter McNeeley

One of the most anticipated fights in the history of combat sports, the return of “Iron” Mike Tyson, would have made this list regardless of who his opponent was. When Peter McNeeley was annouced as Tyson’s return opponent, everyone said, “who the fuck ins Peter McNeeley?” The worst part is that people today are saying the same thing, despite having participated in one of the most lucrative bouts in history. ON Aug. 19, 1995, Tyson was able to quickly dispose of McNeeley in classic fashion and make Don King very rich thanks to the 1.52 million PPVs sold that night.

5. Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield

Just cracking into the Top 5 is the first in a series of what would be known as Iron Mike’s last few great fights. After facing and easily disposing of several lesser opponents, a long awaited fight between Tyson and Evander Holyfield finally happened. So on Nov. 9, 1996, the dream heavyweight title unification bout finally happened and it ended up drawing 1.59 million PPV buys with Holyfield winning by TKO in the 11th round.

4. Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson

After winning four fights and suffering zero losses in six outings since dropping back-t0-back losses to Holyfield, Tyson worked his way into a shot at then heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis. This bout was one each fighters last, and did not disappoint in pay. On June 8th, 2002, it instantly became on of the best selling PPVs of all time with 1.97 million buys, and would see Lewis retain his belts with an 8th round KO of the legendary champion.

3. Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II

Known as “The Bite Fight,” this bout was an immediate rematch to their previous outing. While Tyson came up short again, it was under very different circumstances. On Jun. 28, 1998, in front of 1.99 million PPV subscribers, referee Mills Lane’s often misquoted infamous line, “I’ll allow it,” came to fruition as he failed to disqualify Tyson after biting Holyfield’s ear the first time, meaning it took two bites to earn the honor. Needless to say the event would go down as one of the most bizarre and spectacular of the generation. Once could only imagine how the world would be different if YouTube existed when this happened.

2. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez

After some serious negotiations and accusations of dodging the young and one undefeated Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Mayweather came to terms and made the bout happen on Sep. 14, 2013. Those hoping for fireworks were quickly disappointed as Mayweather avoided serious damage and scored points to earn a majority decision. While Canelo may have come up short in class and skill, he did help generate enough interest to generate 2.2 million PPV buys.

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Oscar De La Hoya

It somehow seems only fitting that the current king of PPV would get there by taking on the previous king of PPV, The Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya. While De La Hoya didn’t have the untarnished record Mayweather did, he did have star power, an exciting style, and was a proven draw. So in an almost passing of the PPV draw torch sort of way, on May 5, 2007, Mayweather would win by split-decision over The Golden Boy with 2.4 million PPV subscribers tuning in. De La Hoya would only have two more fights, his last being a TKO loss to Manny Pacquiao.

About The Author

Justin Fuller
Associate Editor/Senior Writer

Justin Fuller is a writer, broadcaster, and political analyst. With a background in sports talk radio, he now runs his own podcast, "The Fuller Fight Factor LIVE."