By Keith Idec
Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought just once in 2017, but the retired superstar still made more money last year than any other athlete in the world.
Mayweather topped Forbes.com’s rankings, released Tuesday, with an estimated $285 million in overall earnings last year. According to Forbes, Mayweather made $275 million from his pay-per-view extravaganza against Conor McGregor and an additional $10 million in endorsements.
Las Vegas’ Mayweather, then 40, came out of retirement to meet McGregor, a UFC superstar who had never before competed in a professional boxing match. Mayweather stopped Ireland’s McGregor in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round, 154-pound bout August 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Though widely dismissed as a mismatch and offered at a higher price point than most boxing pay-per-view events ($100 in HD), their spectacle produced approximately 4.3 million pay-per-view buys, the second-highest total in boxing history. Mayweather’s unanimous-decision win over Manny Pacquiao in May 2015 generated boxing’s record, right around 4.6 million buys.
Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) retired for the third time in his career after defeating McGregor.
McGregor, 29, didn’t compete in a single mixed martial arts match in 2017. Because his showdown with Mayweather was so lucrative, though, he ranks No. 4 on Forbes’ list with $99 million in overall earnings ($85 million from the fight; $14 million in endorsements).
Here are the top 10 athletes on Forbes’ earnings list for 2017:
Athlete/Sport Overall earnings Salary/winnings Endorsements
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr./boxing $285 million $275 million $10 million
2. Lionel Messi/soccer $111 million $84 million $27 million
3. Cristiano Ronaldo/soccer $108 million $61 million $47 million
4. Conor McGregor/MMA, boxing $99 million $85 million $14 million
5. Neymar/soccer $90 million $73 million $17 million
6. LeBron James/basketball $85.5 million $33.5 million $52 million
7. Roger Federer/tennis $77.2 million $12.2 million $65 million
8. Stephen Curry/basketball $76.9 million $34.9 million $42 million
9. Matt Ryan/football $67.3 million $62.3 million $5 million
10. Matthew Stafford/football $59.5 million $57.5 million $2 million
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.