From Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson to Roy Jones Jr. and Lennox Lewis, they were each exceptional champions of the sweet science in their prime. The legends of yesteryear may not be in the same spotlight anymore after retirement, but that doesn’t mean they are all done working. So, what do famous boxers do when they retire? Let’s find out because some of the answers might surprise you.
Sugar Ray Leonard (Welterweight – Middleweight)
Ray Charles Leonard is one of the very few boxers in the sport’s history to win the World Champion’s title across five separate weight classes during his 20-year long illustrious career. With a staggering 90% official win record (36/40), Leonard started his career in professional boxing after winning the Olympic Gold Medal in 1976, where he remained undefeated in his first 27 clashes. Sugar Ray Leonard is considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. Post his retirement in 1997, Leonard has remained active as a promoter, motivational speaker, and activist against child abuse.
Manny Pacquiao (Flyweight – Light Middleweight)
Out of all the former boxing champions, Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, aka PacMan has had one of the most multifaceted careers before, during, and after his time in professional boxing. Pacquiao in his prime was widely regarded as the best active southpaw in boxing, pound-for-pound. PacMan won the World Championship Belt 12-times across eight different weight classes (flyweight – light middleweight). With a 63% win by knockout rate (39/62) and a career win record of 86% (62/72) in professional boxing, Manny Pacquiao remains one of the all-time greats. His last fight was against Yordenis Ugás on August 21, 2021.
After the loss, Pacquiao officially declared his retirement from boxing on September 19, 2021. He also mentioned that he is going to prepare for the 2022 Philippine Presidential Election as a candidate. The former champion and Senator of the Philippines has always been actively involved in the country’s politics, religion, and military well before retirement, so it’s not difficult to guess where PacMan will be concentrating next.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Super Featherweight – Light Middleweight)
One of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s many nicknames is TBE, which stands for The Best Ever. It is impossible to argue with that logic since Mayweather has a 100% win record in professional boxing (50/50) with 27 KOs (54%).
Putting the science back into the sweet science, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is unanimously accepted as the greatest technical and defensive boxer of all time. Throughout his flawless, 21-year long pro-boxing career (1996 – 2017), Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather Jr. managed to land 15 World Championships across 5 different weight classes (super featherweight – light middleweight).
Unlike the others on this list, Mayweather did not take up another career after his first official retirement in 2015. He continued to fight occasionally as a pro boxer and broke out of his retirement status quite a few times, up until 2017. On August 26th, 2017 he fought against MMA superstar Conor McGregor to win his 50th match in pro-boxing, casually earning around 300 million dollars from that one fight!
After the massive payday, Floyd Mayweather Jr. truly retired from pro-boxing, but he continued to appear in occasional exhibition matches from thereon. No amount of 2 or professional training managed to help Tenshin Nasukawa (pro bantamweight kickboxer) in 2018, or Logan Paul (American YouTuber and Cruiserweight) in 2020 in breaking TBE’s win streak though. It remains to be seen when the legend will enter a boxing ring again for another next exhibition match. In the meantime, he owns Mayweather Promotions.
Michael Gerard Tyson (Heavyweight)
An 18-year-old “Iron Mike” Tyson entered the Plaza Convention Centre ring in Albany, New York for his debut pro boxing match against Hector Mercedes. He won the fight in round one via TKO and went on to win a total of 37 matches between 1985 and 1989. During this time, Mike Tyson became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion, the first heavyweight boxer to hold all three of the championships (WBA, WBC, and IBF) simultaneously, and created a legacy of fierce knockouts which have never been matched by another heavyweight boxer to date.
Tyson knocked out every one of his opponents during the first 19 matches and by the time he finished challenger Carl Williams in the very first round (1:33), it was already 1989 and Iron Mike had won 37 matches in a row with 33 knockouts (89%KO rate)!
Plagued with controversies, jail time, and memories of an unsurmountable wall named Evander Holyfield, “The Baddest Man on the Planet” retired from pro boxing in 2005. Since then, he has played several cameos on television, movies, music videos, and the WWE, but that’s not all. Tyson won the SPORTEL Special Prize at the Golden Podium Awards Ceremony 2013 for his autobiography, Undisputed Truth. Tyson the voice artist even has a successful podcast (Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson) and a comedy/parody YouTube channel now.
Not everyone manages to make life work once they leave sports, but some do. However, compared to being a World Champion boxer in one’s prime, the new career never can live up to the same standards, unfortunately.