Magnificent Floyd Mayweather cements his boxing legacy
Floyd Mayweather proved himself the master of the ring to outbox Manny Pacquiao and could now face British fighters Kell Brook or Amir Khan in a final fight before retiring.
Mayweather won a unanimous decision in the welterweight world title bout, the unbeaten American lifting his record to 48-0 to fulfil his legacy as the finest boxer of this generation. Pacquiao endured his sixth career defeat.
"Monday, I will relinquish all belts," pronounced a triumphant 'Money' Mayweather, who now holds the WBO, WBA, and WBC welterweight titles after the blockbuster which may have netted $500m.
Brook holds the IBF crown, and with his promoter Eddie Hearn in talks with Mayweather's adviser Al Haymon, there is just a chance that he may get a tilt at the champion.
"I want the younger fighters to get an opportunity to fight for belts,"explained Mayweather, who is planning one final fight in September to match Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record. "My last fight will still be a 12-round fight, but it may not be a championship fight."
Khan, should he win on May 29 against Chris Algieri, and the rising American Keith Thurman are also viable opponents for Mayweather in September.
Mayweather-Pacquiao, the richest fight in boxing history, was not a contest for the ages at the sold out MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The three ringside judges scored the fight 116-112, 116-112 with the third judge returning a score of 118-110. The three judges concurred on 10 of the 12 rounds. They disagreed only on the ninth and 10th rounds, Glenn Feldman and Burt Clements ticking them for Pacquiao, Dave Moretti for Mayweather.
Soon after the fight, it was disclosed by promoter Bob Arum that Pacquiao had injured his right shoulder in training and that Nevada boxing commissioners denied a request for him to take an anti-inflammatory injection in his dressing-room before the fight.
"For years people said 'Floyd is scared'," Mayweather said.
"Tomorrow I want all you guys who said I was scared and wrote negative articles about me - people don't know me,
"I love my family, I want the best for my family, I'm an American dream, I worked hard to put my family in a great situation. I'm going to wake up early tomorrow and read all your stories."
There were no knock-downs, and at times it was a cagey affair. Pacquiao seemed to be unable to launch full assault mode at times, but that was more because Mayweather controlled range, distance, the centre of the ring, and clinched when he had to.
Pacquiao harried and harassed Mayweather as much as he could, finding some success with powerful left hands, but Mayweather controlled the range with his jab, moved smartly, and demonstrated once again that his defensive mastery can make great fighters look ordinary.
"I take my hat off to Manny Pacquiao. I see now why he is at the pinnacle of boxing," Mayweather said. "I knew he was going to push me, win some rounds. I wasn't being hit with a lot of shots until I sit in a pocket and he landed a lot of shots."
The astronomical interest in the fight, five years in the making, will yield Mayweather an estimated $180m - was far from a thriller, but Mayweather's style often results in such spectacles.
Pacquiao, largely left-handed throughout, threw fewer punches than coach Freddie Roach had wanted him to. Pacquiao was recorded by Compubox as throwing 429, Mayweather 435.
Mayweather landed 148 punches; Pacquiao 81. Mayweather landed 67 jabs and 81 power punches, while Pacquiao threw 193 jabs with just 18 on target. Pacquiao threw more 'power punches' - 236 - but only landed 63.
The volume thrown by Pacquiao was one of the surprises of the night, given that he is renowned as a volume puncher, normally averaging over 700 in a 12-round championship fight. The injured shoulder may have played a part, but it should not be offered as an excuse on the outcome, or the execution of the fight.
"I thought I won the fight. He didn't do nothing except move outside," Pacquiao said. "I got him many times, I saw the punches."
The main event was delayed just under half an hour because cable and satellite systems could not cope with the pay per view demand, suggesting that it may have reached close to four million.
Given the demand in the UK, sources said that Sky Box Office expected to have brought in at least a million PPV buys. The record, 1.2 million, was for Mayweather-Ricky Hatton in 2007.
"I'm almost 40 years old now. I've been in the sport 19 years and have been a champion for 18 years. I'm truly blessed," Mayweather said.
The signs were there when Pacquiao was catching him that his reactions are slowing, and Father Time is catching him.
But without doubt, Mayweather proved himself the boxer of this era. Mayweather, unpopular or not, is the man. (© Daily Telegraph, London)