The term "journeyman boxer" refers to a competent, professional boxer who has not had a distinguished or reliable career. While a journeyman boxer may fight a top boxer occasionally, most spend their careers fighting on the undercard earning enough to make a decent living. A few may manage to earn significant sums per fight.
Athletes in spectator sports, which includes boxing, earn an average of £67,905 as of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While top boxers such as Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins may earn several million per fight, many journeyman boxers earn less than six-figure salaries annually -- some much less.
A Journeyman's Story
It is not at all unusual for a journeyman boxer to work other jobs to maintain a living. An example is Michael Rothberger, a journeyman boxer and night truck driver who earns £65 per round and lost three consecutive fights in 2003 according to an article for the Taipei Times. One more loss would have resulted in the New York State Athletic Commission stripping Rothberger permanently of his license. Though journeymen are expected to lose fights, the commission sets a limit on the amount of fights that can be lost to prevent journeymen from taking "dives" (or losing intentionally) to earn extra money.
A Closer Look
The June 2003 article for the Taipei Times notes that the average pay for a journeyman boxer is £260 for a four-round fight and £390 for a six-round fight on the East Coast. In states such as Mississippi, the salaries may be as low as £48 per round. The article notes that these figures have remained constant for more than 20 years and that, in some cases, journey boxers may have to pay for their own expenses. Some boxers such as Rothberger have had to pay for their own medical attention after a fight.
Other Journeyman Boxers
In women's boxing, where a significant number of boxers are journeyman boxers, salaries mirror those of journeymen boxers in men's boxing. Salaries can be as low as £260 per fight for female boxers according to a 2006 article by Boxingangel.com depicting the career of former world champion Ann-Marie Saccurato. In MMA Boxing, the term "journeyman boxer" has a different connotation as boxers in this category do not enter the ring with the expectation of losing. A May 2011 article by Mmapayout.com suggests that MMA Boxing journeymen may earn a great deal more than those in traditional boxing. The article mentions the expected salary of MMA journeyman Jeff Lacy whose expected fall 2011 fight with Nick Diaz would earn him more than £113,750 as part of a deal with Showtime.