If only that was an easy question to answer…
There is no set pay table with how much sparring partners in boxing and MMA make because, like any other profession in the world, it depends how good you are at your job and how much money your boss is willing to pay you for your services. The first part of the previous statement says, “how good you are at your job,” so let’s focus on that for a second.
Being a good sparring partner very rarely means you are one of the best fighters in the world. Often times they are fighters that are either just coming up and trying to make a name for themselves, or a fighter whose best professional days are behind them, but they are still professional enough to know what they need to do to help prepare the fighter that they were brought into camp to spar with.
Often times you see people confuse sparring sessions for real life fights, especially on online boxing and MMA message boards. You’ll read about how “the champ” had problems with a novice, or a guy that has a sub .500 record, and it must mean that “the champ” is in trouble come fight night. While that is true sometimes, it is usually not the case. Usually “the champ” may have been directed to work on one specific thing he hasn’t mastered. His sparring partner across the ring may have been brought in because he does that one thing really really well. When you look at it in that example you can see why “the champ” may have had problems with that specific sparring partner on that specific day. Again, that rarely means that the sparring partner would have any kind of chance against “the champ” if the two were to actually fight. However, that does mean that the sparring partner that was brought in was very effective at his job.
So, again the question is asked, how much are the sparring partners paid?
A few years ago a story came out that said Manny Pacquaio paid his fighters $1,000 a week and gave them room and board. It was also said that Freddy Roach made it public that if any of the sparring partners were able to knock Pacquaio down in a sparring session they would earn an extra $1,000. What a tough spot for a sparring partner. Sure, an extra $1,000 in your pocket sounds great, but what happens on the off chance that you do knock Pacquaio down? Maybe he just laughs and off and congratulates the guy on a well placed shot and continues sparring. Or maybe he gets so upset he kicks the guy out of camp, effectively diminishing the earning power of said sparring partner for not just that particular training camp but for future training camps. What if PacMan remembered you when it came time for him to fight Floyd Mayweather and decided this time he’s going to pay his sparring partners $2,500 a week? Tough decisions.
So, I still haven’t answered the question, huh?
In short. It varies. If you are good at what is asked of you and you don’t brag if you get the better of the champ – who is your boss in that situation – you will most likely continue to get work. If you manhandle your boss and brag about it to your friends and on social media, your sparring days will be short lived.
For those who need to see actual numbers, and you’ll see how varying they are, here’s a look at what some champion fighters have paid their sparring partners in the past.
– Early Mike Tyson sparring partners were reportedly paid $500-$700 per week. As Tyson’s rank rose, so did the price he paid his sparring partners. Tyson reportedly paid Oliver McCall – his favorite sparring partner for his ability to take a pounding and never complain – $2,000 a week.
– More recently, it was reported that Mayweather employed nine sparring partners before his fight with Pacquaio. While the official salary was never disclosed, the man in charge in Mayweather’s camp of giving the sparring partners their weekly checks, Ricki Brazil, said none of the sparring partners ever missed a day. Mayweather, who pays $1,000 for a haircut, probably took care of his sparring partners.
– Richard Towers (15-1 12 KOs) is paid $1,000 a week and room and board as one of the primary sparring partners of former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.