I was a bit too young to remember those times. My parents were of the even earlier Ali era. They said that when an Ali fight was happening, streets became empty and all the kids in the college campus were inside, gathered around televisions to see the fight.
Boxing used to be such a huge sport before basketball and football gained popularity in America. I saw a documentary about Dempsey, and he actually earned millions of dollars in the 1920s before the great depression hit. I can't imagine what figures that would translate to in today's economy, but I'm sure it would make Mayweather Jr. look mediocre by comparison.