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Boxer Floyd Mayweather tops highest-paid U.S. athletes’ list

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. — considered the best defensive boxer of his generation — topped Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50 list,

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NEW YORK — Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the highest-paid professional athlete in the United States with expected earnings of at least $90 million this year from just two bouts, according to Sports Illustrated magazine.

The 36-year-old welterweight — considered the best defensive boxer of his generation — topped the magazine’s Fortunate 50 list, issued today. Mayweather also took the top spot last year, earning an estimated $85 million, again from just two fights, the magazine reported.

Miami Heat basketball star LeBron James, 28, a four-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, came in this year in the number two slot, earning a total of $56.5 million.

The list is calculated by combining estimated salary, winnings and endorsements. Mayweather’s total earnings are even more impressive considering he received no endorsement money either this year or last.

James’ $56.5 million income combines a $17.5 million salary with an additional $39 million in endorsements.

Golfer Tiger Woods, the highest paid U.S. athlete from 2004, when the list was first published, through 2011, dropped to the No. 5 slot on this year’s list, earning $40.8 million.

Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano came in as the 50th highest-paid U.S. athlete with an estimated $18.2 million.

Candidates for the list must be U.S. citizens and compete in a U.S.-based league.

Internationally, soccer great David Beckham is estimated to earn more than $48 million, landing him the top spot on the magazine’s annual list of highest-paid athletes worldwide, The International 20.

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