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Messi is sports world's highest earner - Forbes

Barcelona and Argentina star Messi dethroned retired boxer Floyd Mayweather as the sports world's highest earner, raking in $127 million via salary and endorsement deals.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates a goal. Picture: @FCBarcelona/Twitter

NEW YORK - Lionel Messi was the world's highest-paid athlete over the past year, _Forbes _reported on Tuesday in its annual sporting rich list.

Barcelona and Argentina star Messi dethroned retired boxer Floyd Mayweather as the sports world's highest earner, raking in $127 million via salary and endorsement deals.

That put Messi ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star who was second with earnings of $109 million.

Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by footballers, coming in third with earnings of $105 million.

The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico's middleweight boxing star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez with $94 million.

Alvarez, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked the richest deal in boxing history last October, signing a five-year 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth $365 million.

Evergreen tennis star Roger Federer was fifth on the list with total earnings of $93.4 million.

The bulk of Federer's earnings came through lucrative endorsement deals, with the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion pocketing $86 million.

Stars from the NFL and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on $89.5 million, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($89.3 million).

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest earning NBA player, with $89 million, while Golden State's Stephen Curry was ninth with $79.8 million.

Curry's Golden State team-mate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with $65.4 million.

Former world number one Tiger Woods was 11th on the list with $69.3 million, which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.

Meanwhile, tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of $29.2 million.