Boxer Mayweather, currently serving a three-month jail sentence for domestic assault, made $85m (£54.25m) - a figure bolstered by promoting his own fights.
Golfing legend Woods dropped to third having received $59.4m (£37.92m) with boxer Manny Pacquiao rising to second on earnings of $62m (£39.57m).
David Beckham is eighth on the list.
He is the highest paid footballer with earnings of $46m (£29.36m).
Surprisingly, Olympic champion and world record-holding sprinter Usain Bolt, who is the most high-profile star of London 2012, was only 63rd with $20.3m (£12.96m) - just a quarter of Mayweather's earnings.
He also brought in less than half of golfer Phil Mickelson's $47.8m (£30.51m).
Woods had topped the Forbes list since 2001 but saw a drop in his earnings of $16m (£10.21m) from the previous year and was down by half from his peak in 2009.
He has suffered a tail off in endorsements since then as a result of being embroiled in a sex scandal.
Miami Heat star LeBron James ranks fourth at $53m (£33.84m), the highest of 13 basketball players and on the list. Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was fifth at $52.7m (£33.64m).
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo earned $42.5m (£27.10m) and can lay claim to the top annual salary of any athlete in any league at $20m (£12.75m).
Only two women made it on to the list - Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova was 26th at $27.9m (£17.79m), thanks in great measure to huge global endorsement totals, as well as $5.9m (£3.76m) in prize money over the past year.
China's 2011 French Open champion Li Na was 81st overall at $18.4m (£11.72m), after becoming the first Asian-born player to win a Grand Slam singles crown.