NEW YORK - Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the boxers who fight fans worldwide want to see in the ring together, top the list of the 100 highest-paid athletes released by Forbes magazine on Monday.
Mayweather, who ranks No.1 for making $US85 million ($F153.6m) from two fights last year, is 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 list at $US62 million ($F112.04m) from earnings and endorsements, lost to unbeaten US fighter Tim Bradley on July 9 and they are set to fight a rematch in November. Tiger Woods, who had topped the Forbes list since 2001, fell to third with $US59.4m ($F107.34m), his earnings off $US16m ($F28.91m) 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, had a sex scandal erupt that caused him to start his 2010 season late and suffered a 2011 nagged by injuries. Miami Heat star LeBron James ranks fourth at $US53m ($F95.77m), the highest of 13 basketball players on the list. 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 soccer side Liverpool. Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was fifth at $US52.7m ($F95.23m) followed by NBA star Kobe Bryant at $US52.3m ($F94.51m), US golfer Phil Mickelson at $US47.8m ($F86.38m), English football star David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy at $US46m ($F83.12m) and Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo at $US42.5m ($F76.8m).