Move over Floyd: Ronaldo pips Messi as world's highest-paid athlete

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's rivalry extends well beyond the football field, with the Real Madrid superstar pipping his Barcelona foe to the mantle of the world's highest paid athlete over the past 12 months.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named as the world's highest-paid athlete in the 2016 edition of American business magazine Forbes' list.

Ronaldo earned $88 million (S$118.4 million) up to June 1 2016, which is made up of $56m in salary and $32m in endorsements to put him clear at the top.

It is the first time since 2000 that the No.1 position has not been filled by boxer Floyd Mayweather – now retired after finishing first last year - or golfer Tiger Woods, who has not won a major for eight years.

Ronaldo's total put him ahead of fellow footballer Lionel Messi, who picked up $81.4m over the past 12 months, while basketball star LeBron James was third with $77.2m – up from the No.6 spot last year.

James earned more than the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in endorsements ($54m), although his $23.2m salary was dwarfed by the wages of Ronaldo and Messi ($53.4m).

Basketball had three players in the top 10 – more than any other sport - with Kevin Durant ($56.2m) fifth and Kobe Bryant ($50m) in 10th.

Tennis duo Roger Federer ($67.8m) and Novak Djokovic ($55.8m) were fourth and sixth in the list respectively.

Baseball did not have a representative in the top 10, but was the most prolific in the first 100 with 26 players featuring. The NFL was next on 21, topped by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ($53.1m) in seventh spot, with basketball (18) and football (12) also faring well.

Golfers Phil Mickelson ($52.9m) and Jordan Spieth ($52.8m) were eighth and ninth respectively.

Spieth was the biggest mover in the list, surging from No.85 last year after capitalising commercially on his two major wins.

Forbes' top 10 highest-paid athletes:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo - $88m
2. Lionel Messi - $81.4m
3. LeBron James - $77.2m
4. Roger Federer - $67.8m
5. Kevin Durant - $56.2m
6. Novak Djokovic - $55.8m
7. Cam Newton - $53.1m
8. Phil Mickelson - $52.9m
9. Jordan Spieth - $52.8m
10. Kobe Bryant - $50m