Floyd Mayweather tops 2018 sports rich list ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

American boxing icon returns to the No.1 spot after his $275m payday against Conor McGregor last August

American boxing star Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is the highest-paid athlete of the decade
American boxing star Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is the highest-paid athlete of the decade
(Image credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

His nickname is “Money” so it comes as no surprise that Floyd Mayweather has topped the Forbes annual list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes.

The retired American boxer has taken top spot on the Forbes sports rich list for the fourth time in seven years. Footballers Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo came second and third respectively.

Mayweather earnt $275m (£205.9m) from his fight against UFC star Conor McGregor last August and supplemented his annual income with $10m (£7.49m) in endorsements, Forbes reports.

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Second-placed Messi made $111m (£83.1m) thanks to his $84m (£62.9m) in salary and winnings and endorsements worth $27m (£20.2m). His rival Ronaldo, who was top of the list the two previous years, drops to third with $108m (£80.9). The Real Madrid star earnt $61m (£45.7m) in salary and winnings and made $47m (£35.2m) in endorsements.

Mixed-martial arts and UFC star McGregor is fourth on the list and is joined in the top ten by Brazil footballer Neymar, basketball players LeBron James and Steph Curry, tennis ace Roger Federer and NFL quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford.

How Forbes creates the rich list

Forbes’s sporting rich list is created after calculating an athlete’s earnings from prize money, salaries and bonuses in the year to 1 June 2018.

The Forbes data reveals that the 100 highest-paid athletes earned a collective $3.8bn (£2.84bn) during the past 12 months - that’s a 23% increase from the previous year.

In the top 100 list the NFL had 18 athletes, 14 were baseball players and nine were footballers. Five golfers, four boxers and four tennis players also made the list.

Forbes 2018 sports rich list top ten

  • 1 Floyd Mayweather (boxing): $285m (£213.6m)
  • 2 Lionel Messi (football): $111m (£83.1m)
  • 3 Cristiano Ronaldo (football): $108m (£80.9m)
  • 4 Conor McGregor (UFC/boxing): $99m (£74.2m)
  • 5 Neymar (football): $90m (£67.4m)
  • 6 LeBron James (basketball): $85.5m (£64.1m)
  • 7 Roger Federer (tennis): $77.2m (£57.8m)
  • 8 Stephen Curry (basketball): $76.9m (£57.6m)
  • 9 Matt Ryan (American football): $67.3m (£50.4m)
  • 10 Matthew Stafford (American football): $59.5m (£44.6m)
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