Mayweather, Pacquiao are world's highest paid athletes

Posted at 06/19/2012 8:47 AM | Updated as of 06/19/2012 3:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing's pound-for-pound kings Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are the two highest paid athletes in the world in 2012, making more than golf superstar Tiger Woods and NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James.

Mayweather topped Forbes' 2012 list of the 100 Highest Paid Athletes, dethroning Woods who has held the top spot since 2001.

"There's a reason they call Mayweather 'Money.' He fought twice during the past 12 months, knocking out Victor Ortiz in September and winning a unanimous decision in May against Miguel Cotto," wrote Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen.

"He spent less than one hour in the ring to dispatch his two foes. His combined payday for the bouts: $85-million."

According to Forbes, Mayweather earned $40 million against Ortiz and another $45 million against Cotto.

The undefeated American boxer has been part of the four biggest non-heavyweight pay-per-view events in boxing history, including his 2007 blockbuster with Oscar De La Hoya, which holds the record with 2.5-million PPV buys.

Pacquiao is second on the list, earning $62 million in 2012.

"Over the past 12 months he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley. The bouts netted him $56 million, including the money he gets from their broadcast in the Philippines," Badenhausen wrote.

"He also made an estimated $6 million over the past year outside the ring through endorsements with Nike, Hewlett-Packard, Monster Energy and Hennessy," he added.

Badenhausen notes that Mayweather earned more than Pacquiao because the American boxer "maximizes his earnings by also acting as his own fight promoter through his company Mayweather Promotions."

Mayweather uses a different business template than Pacquiao, and thus collects the revenue from tickets, pay-per-view and sponsorships, though he also covers the cost of the bout - including his opponent's guaranteed purse.

"(Mayweather's) take home per fight is typically at least 50% higher than what his rival Manny Pacquiao earns," Badenhausen wrote.

Mayweather's antics outside the ring also does not hurt his earning power; indeed, his controversial actions create buzz that draw both hardcore fans and casual fans to his fights.

Meanwhile, Woods is third with a total 2012 earnings of $59.4 million. According to Forbes, this is down $16 million from last year and is half of what he earned in 2009.

James, the Miami Heat superstar, earned $53 million last year despite the NBA lockout. He earned $13 million in his salary and $40 million through various endorsements with Nike, McDonald's, Coca-Cola and others.

Tennis superstar Roger Federer is fifth on the list, having earned $52.7 million in 2012.

Federer earned $45 million from endorsements and $7.7 million from winnings.

Forbes said the Swiss maestro "has the most impressive endorsement portfolio in sports, with nine sponsors that collectively pay him more than $30 million annually."

Rounding out the top 10 are:

6. Kobe Bryant (NBA, Los Angeles Lakers) - $52.3 million
7. Phil Mickelson (golf) - $47.8 million
8. David Beckham (MLS, Los Angeles Galaxy) - $46 million
9. Cristiano Ronaldo (La Liga, Real Madrid) - $42.5 million
10. Peyton Manning (NFL, Denver Broncos) - $42.4 million