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Mayweather, Tyson feature in Highest-Paid Athletes 1990-2020

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Following the release of Forbes’ list of Highest-Paid Athletes for 2020, WBN looks back on the last thirty years of the honor roll from Mike Tyson to Floyd Mayweather.

Tyson was at the peak of his earning power in 1990. However, this was dwarfed by Mayweather considerably almost three decades later.

As ‘Iron’ Mike enjoyed the best year of his career when banking $28.6 million, Mayweather took home ten times that for his 2017 clash with Conor McGregor.

Mayweather is also the Highest-Paid Athlete of the last decade and secured four years as the number one money man on the planet.

In 2019, Mayweather fell off the list completely when sticking to his guns and retiring. Tyson may well be looking for a return to the list in 2021.

Announcing a comeback, it’s been reported. Tyson could earn between twenty and fifty million dollars, depending on how far he takes his imminent return.

Evander Holyfield took over from Tyson when ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ served time during the early 1990s. It was then the turn of the NBA’s finest, Michael Jordan, to reign supreme.

The graphic below by shows how Jordan took the helm heading into 1993 and remained there until 1996. Tyson once again ruled the sporting scene as he left prison and recaptured the public’s imagination.

As Tyson dropped again in 1997, Jordan regained his place until the end of the millennium, when Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher came to the fore.

Taking the money into a new direction, Schumacher began a period of dominance for disciplines away from boxing.

Tiger Woods reached the summit in 2002. Unbelievably for a golfer, Woods kept a firm grip on the top spot for ten straight years.

Schumacher ran him close for the first few years, but from the mid-2000s, Woods was all-conquering.

Oscar De La Hoya and Muhammad Ali enjoyed brief flirtations with the top three. But nobody could compete with the star of that era in Woods.

As you see below in the list of the most years enjoyed by one sportsman, Woods holds the record for eleven.

The man who halted the Woods run for one year in 2012? – A confident Floyd Mayweather.


Tiger Woods, 11 (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013)
Michael Jordan, 6 (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998)
Floyd Mayweather, 4 (2012, 2014, 2015, 2018)
Mike Tyson, 2 (1990, 1996)
Michael Schumacher, 2 (1999, 2000)
Cristiano Ronaldo, 2 (2016, 2017)
Evander Holyfield, 1 (1991)
Lionel Messi, 1 (2019)
Roger Federer, 1 (2020)


Mayweather and Woods traded places in 2013 and 2014 before the multi-weight world champion took the mantle until 2016.

Footballing powerhouse Cristiano Ronaldo had back-to-back successes until 2017 before Floyd Mayweather nabbed the fourth year of his C.V. in 2018.

Lionel Messi held the honor last year before Tennis legend Roger Federer finally reached the number one position after twenty years of success.

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