x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mayweather and Pacquiao top world's highest-paid athletes list

Boxing stars lead the way in Forbes magazine list that sees Tiger Woods slip to third ahead of LeBron James.

Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao - the boxers that fight fans worldwide want to see face each other in the ring - top the list of the world's 100 highest-paid athletes.

Mayweather, who ranks No. 1 for making $85 million off two fights last year, is currently serving a three-month jail sentence for domestic battery in Las Vegas, having failed in a bid to serve the remainder of his time under house arrest.

While his doctors and co-manager warned that staying behind bars might cause irreparable damage to his fitness and risk his boxing career, the undefeated US fighter is expected to climb back into the ring, likely later this year.

But Mayweather will not be fighting Filipino icon Pacquiao in the mega-bout that boxing fans have sought for years.

Pacquiao, second on the Forbes magazine list at $62 million from earnings and endorsements, lost to unbeaten US fighter Tim Bradley on July 9 - with a lucrative rematch scheduled for November.

Tiger Woods, who had topped the Forbes list since 2001, fell to third this time with $59.4 million, his earnings off $16 million from the previous year and by half since his peak in 2009, mostly due to lost endorsement deals.

It was in 2009 that Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the 18 major titles won by Jack Nicklaus, saw a sex scandal erupt that caused him to start his 2010 season late and 2011 saw Woods nagged by injuries.

Woods went on a 17-month win drought until he won last March at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He followed up with a victory earlier this month at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial but has not won a major since the 2008 US Open.

Miami Heat star LeBron James ranks fourth at $53 million, the highest of 13 basketball players and on the list. The Heat are playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals as James seeks his first league crown.

While a lockout last year trimmed 20 per cent off his salary, endorsement deals boosted his total and a marketing partnership made him a stakeholder in English Premier League football side Liverpool.

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was fifth at $52.7 million followed by NBA star Kobe Bryant at $52.3 million, US golfer Phil Mickelson at $47.8 million, English football star David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy at $46 million and Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo at $42.5 million, with the top annual salary of any athlete in any league at $20 million.

American football boasts 30 players on the list, topped by No. 10 Peyton Manning, the former Indianapolis Colts star who was cut in March and signed with the Denver Broncos for $96 million over six years.

Manning's $42.4 million ranks 10th overall and he continues to be the top endorsement pitchman among gridiron stars.

In total, the top 100 made $2.6 billion.

Only two women, both tennis players, cracked the list — Russian star Maria Sharapova, the newest career Grand Slam winner after her French Open final triumph earlier this month, and China's Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion.

Sharapova was 26th at $27.9 million, thanks in great measure to huge global endorsement totals as well as $5.9 million in prize money over the past year.

Li was 81st overall at $18.4 million, with seven new endorsement deals after becoming the first Asian-born player to win a Grand Slam singles crown.

Cricket star Mahendra Singh Dhoni ranked No. 31 and India batsman Sachin Tendulkar was No. 78.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the reigning 100- and 200-metre Olympic champion and world record-holder who figures to be a top attraction at the London Olympics, was 63rd with $20.3 million.