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Pacquiao foiled by master craftsman

WE know that hype is a prized natural resource in America where a cereal is branded the "Breakfast of Champions". Even so, we lapped up the Fight of the Century schtick.

The long-awaited contest between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao generated some serious moolah, directly and indirectly. It went the distance. Twelve rounds. But not all the customers were satisfied. For many casual fight fans, this Battle for Greatness failed the taste test.


It's a measure of how eagery the gullible gobbled the torrent of expectation that so many complaints were heard in the aftermath of Mayweather's unanimous decision victory.

Going into the fight, Mayweather had been unbeaten in 47 bouts. He'd knocked out 26 of his opponents, but none since Ricky Hatton in 2007. He's 38 and was openly discussing his imminent retirement before Saturday's contest.

Even allowing for Mayweather's history of spousal abuse, Pacquiao was always going to be the punters' favourite. Although two years younger than Mayweather, the man from the Philippines had a lot more boxing miles on the clock. 56 fights that resulted in five losses, three by knock-out, and a couple of draws.

Both men were known to be losing their knock-out power. While stamina could have become an issue for both men, the chances were that this fight was going to go the distance. Manny hoped that Floyd would tire and get caught by some damaging punches. Floyd planned to avoid the onslaught and rely on his counter-punching ability to score with the judges.

And so it came to pass. Those hoping for an explosive slug-fest were always going to be disappointed.

Mayweather has remained unbeaten because he applies, and brilliantly at that, two simple principles that every schoolboy susses out in the playground quickly enough. He avoids getting hit and manoeuvres to land punches in return.

Against someone like the blisteringly busy Pacquiao, also a world champion, that could have proved difficult. But Mayweather contrived to make it look easy, winning eight rounds on the cards of two judges and ten rounds on the other.

Giving Pacquiao the benefit of the doubt in rounds seven and ten, my eyes told me he'd won just four. The sight of Pacquiao punching thin air was not what the punters paid to see. But, as throughout his career, Mayweather did what he had to do to win.

He remained elusive. Catching him was like trying to pick up mercury with a fork while wearing boxing gloves. He jabbed and counter-punched to telling effect. Pacquiao had his excuses ready afterwards. But he sounded delusional and more than a little bewildered and frustrated. He'd spent the night chasing shadows, like a drunk who believed he had the key but couldn't find the lock.

Loathe him or hate him, Mayweather has controlled his own destiny in the roughest business arena in sport. He says he'll fight once more. Whoever he fights, it's unlikely to generate as much revenue as Saturday's Fight of the Century.