Forbes released the list on Monday.
Boxer and promoter Floyd Mayweather, living up to his 'Money' moniker, finished on top earning a healthy $85 Million USD while Manny Pacquiao, who placed second, pocketed a scintillating $62 Million USD.
Neither fighter made the list last year but Mayweather and Pacquiao finished No. 2 and No. 8, respectively, in 2010.
Golfer Tiger Woods, who had had a solid lock on the No.1 position since 2002, finished third earning $59.4 million which included a breath-taking $55 Million USD in endorsements. However, Woods' total earnings plummeted $16 million from last year. And just prior to his adulterous affairs being made public in 2009, his earning were roughly double of what they are today.
No MMA fighter made the list.
Pictured: Golfer Tiger Woods
1. Floyd Mayweather
Total earnings: $85 million
Salary/winnings: $85 million
The fighter/promoter who calls himself 'Money' earned a hefty $85 Million USD the past year for his bouts against Victor Ortiz ($40 Million USD) and Miguel Cotto ($45 Million USD). Having long since established himself as a boxing legend, the brash, loquacious Mayweather has captured multiple titles across as many weight divisions and been a part of the four biggest non-heavyweight pay-per-view events in boxing's history.
Pictured: Floyd Mayweather, left, lands a left to the head of Victor Ortiz in 2011.
Courtesy of Hogan Photos
HBO Sports announced last month the fight card headlined by the jr middleweight title bout between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas generated 1.5 million pay-per-view (PPV) buys and a smashing $94 million USD in domestic pay-per-view revenue.
"Floyd Mayweather's numbers are getting bigger and bigger and this number shows you the kind of draw he is," Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said, according to ESPN.
"He's a superstar and able to capture the interest of a large audience. He has broken out of the boxing following and now has a mainstream following that is unmatched in the sport. The numbers keep getting bigger and bigger."
Incidentally, Mayweather vs Ortiz, which took place in Las Vegas on September 17th, was the most searched sports event in 2011 according to Google.
2. Manny Pacquiao
Total earnings: $62 million
Salary/winnings: $56 million
Endorsements: $6 million
Arguably the world's most popular athlete, the fighter known as 'Pac Man' is boxing's first eight-division world champion. He was named 'Fighter of the Decade' for the 2000s by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and the World Boxing Council (WBC) and is a three-time RING Magazine and Boxing Writers Association of America 'Fighter of the Year', winning the distinction in 2006, 2008, and 2009.
Pacquiao's fights against Juan Manuel Marquez last November and Timothy Bradley earlier this month earned the amicable Filipino $56 Million USD. And despite losing a very unpopular, hotly-contested decision to Bradley, Pacquiao's income for his next bout will not likely be impacted.
Pictured: Then WBO Welterweight Champion Manny Pacquiao, right, launches a right jab to the face of Juan Manuel Marquez in November 2011.
Courtesy of Chris Farina, Top Rank
'Pac Man' has had five bouts in the last four years that have generated over one million PPV buys. He has also endorsed numerous products including detergents, medicines, foods, beverages, garments and telecommunications gadgets for notable companies and has endorsement deals with giants Nike, Hennessy, Hewlett Packard and Monster Energy. His endorsement earnings garnered $6 Million.
In January, Google, the world's largest search engine, announced Pacquiao was its most searched athlete in 2011.
In addition to being, arguably, one of the two best fighters in the world pound-for-pound, Manny Pacquiao is a singer and Member of the Filipino Congress.
Mayweather vs Pacquiao
Floyd Mayweather refuses to fight his nemesis, Manny Pacquiao, without receiving considerably more money than the Filipino slugger.
And while many have criticized him for not accepting a 50/50 purse split, Mayweather's ring earnings in the last year ($85 Million USD) exceeded Pacquiao's ($56 Million USD) by 34%.
Do Forbes' numbers justify Mayweather's purse split request?
The answer is debatable. However, if Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight each other within a year, both men should be virtual locks for Forbes' top two spots for 2013.
Pictured (in a graphically-manipulated pic): Floyd Mayweather Jr, left, and Manny Pacquiao stare-down.
Boxers in Forbes World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes
Mayweather's top ranking marked the first time in 16 years a boxer has finished in the top spot (Mike Tyson, 1996) and the Mayweather-Pacquiao No.1-No.2 placement serves as the first time since 1991 (Holyfield and Tyson, respectively) boxers occupied the top two slots.
On the first published list in 1990, boxers Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas and Sugar Ray Leonard finished in the top three spots, respectively.
The following year, Evander Holyfield finished at the top spot with Mike Tyson second and Razor Ruddock seventh.
In 1999, boxers represented four of the top ten earners as Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis finished 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th respectively. The following year, Tyson, Lewis and De La Hoya finished 3rd, 8th and 9th respectively.
Oscar De La Hoya finished in the top 10, from 1997 to 2000 and 2003, 2005 and 2007. And 'The Greatest,' Muhammad Ali, finished at No. 3 in 2006 because he made $50 Million USD selling the rights to his name.
Pictured: Muhammad Ali in 2006
About Forbes' List
Forbes publishes a large range of lists each year. The list of the highest-paid athletes in the world is calculated based on earnings derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and licensing income between June one year until June the following year and does not deduct for taxes or agents' fees.
Forbes Top 10 (in American Dollars)
Floyd Mayweather: $85 million
Manny Pacquiao: $62 million
Tiger Woods: $59.4 million
LeBron James: $53 million
Roger Federer: $52.7 million
Kobe Bryant: $52.3 million
Phil Mickelson: $47.8 million
David Beckham: $46 million
Cristiano Ronaldo: $42.5 million
Peyton Manning: $42.4 million