Pacquiao's one hell of a fighter, says Mayweather
FLOYD Mayweather cemented his place among the pantheon of boxing greats by improving to 48-0 with a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, in a fight that lived up to its immense hype and price tag.
Mayweather weathered an early assault from the Filipino southpaw before winning the later rounds using his reach and jab to finish ahead on all three scorecards in a welterweight showdown set to be the top-grossing prize fight of all time.
"When the history books are written, it was worth the wait," the American said in the ring after a four-belt unification bout that was more than five years in the making.
Though Pacquiao repeatedly forced Mayweather to backpedal, the wily American blunted his opponent's best efforts by using his renowned defensive skills while getting in several telling jabs and punches of his own.
Mayweather and Pacquiao had promised to deliver on years of hype and give fans their money's worth, and were true to their word in delivering an entertaining contest that had the capacity crowd on its feet roaring from the opening bell to the end of the 12-round showcase.
"Manny Pacquiao is one hell of a fighter, I now see why he is at the pinnacle of boxing," the 38-year-old Mayweather said after an emotional embrace with Pacquiao. "I'm a smart fighter, I outboxed him. We knew what we had to do. He's a tough competitor...a very awkward fighter and I had to take my time and watch him closely."
The fight was the richest in boxing history, setting new records for pay-per-view (PPV) buys and gate receipts.
The fighters were also paid royally for their night's work, with Mayweather guaranteed US$120 million (S$160 million) and Pacquiao US$80 million, although both men could pocket much more depending on the number of PPV purchases.
For Mayweather, the fight was one that will shape his legacy.
Even if he were to have retired unbeaten, there would have forever been a question mark hanging over his career without at least one meeting against his Filipino rival.
Mayweather said in the ring that he would fight again, but that his next bout would be his last. "My last fight is in September, and then it is time for me to hang it up," he added. "I am almost 40 years old now, I have been in the sport (for) 19 years, I have been world champion (for) 18 years. I am truly thankful and I am blessed."
The MGM Grand Garden Arena crackled with energy as the rich and famous settled into their ringside seats.
Actors Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington rubbed shoulders with sports celebrities such as National Basketball Association legend Michael Jordan, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and billionaire Donald Trump.
The bout marked Mayweather's 11th consecutive fight at the MGM, but it was Pacquiao who enjoyed a massive edge in support as he appeared in the arena.
"It is a good fight. I thought I won the fight. He didn't do nothing. He always moved outside," said Pacquiao, who dropped to 57-6-2. "I did my best, but my best wasn't good enough."
He later revealed that he had hurt his right shoulder during a training camp some three weeks before the bout, an injury severe enough to make him consider postponing the "Fight of the Century".
He had hoped to receive an anti-inflammatory injection before the fight, which he said he had done with the approval of the United States Anti-Doping Agency during the training camp. But the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which oversees boxing in the state, denied permission for the shot.