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

Undefeated WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the U.S. celebrates his victory over Robert Guerrero, also of the U.S., at the
Undefeated WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the U.S. celebrates his victory over Robert Guerrero, also of the U.S., at the

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 on Wednesday. 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.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Tim Dobbyn)

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