Floyd Mayweather Jr. leaves no doubt as to who is the best
LAS VEGAS – For five-plus years we wondered. Now we know. Floyd Mayweather Jr. very clearly is better than Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao and many of those watching the fight didn’t appreciate the manner in which Mayweather proved it, as he fought defensively and took very few risks before a disappointed pro-Pacquiao crowd of 16,507 Saturday night at the MGM Grand.
Mayweather’s signature tactics were effective, though. Pacquiao groped to land any punch he could throughout the fight. He had his moments, particularly when he fired quick combinations whenever he got close enough. But it was an uphill battle for him from beginning to end as Mayweather rolled, held or ran to avoid getting hit. Pacquiao landed only 81 total punches – 6.8 per round, according to CompuBox.
Meanwhile, Mayweather wasn’t particularly busy, generally throwing one punch at a time. His shots were often accurate, though, particularly rights he timed perfectly when Pacquiao rushed in. He landed exactly as many power shots as Pacquiao landed total punches.
The judges scored it 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112, which allowed Mayweather to unify three welterweight titles and retain his RING belt. I had it 116-112. It wasn’t an embarrassment for Pacquiao but it was convincing. Mayweather legitimately won the fight of the new century.
“He had his moments in the fight but I kept him on the outside. I was a smart fighter,” Mayweather said.
The fight was delayed because cable companies apparently had difficulty accommodating all those who wished to buy the event on pay-per-view, a number that was expected to approach 4 million after saturating hype.
Once announcer Michael Buffer began to speak, signaling that the fight was imminent, the arena erupted. The crowd, which clearly leaned toward Pacquiao, cheered wildly when their man made his walk to the ring and booed when Mayweather did the same.
The tension was thick as the eager fighters stood across the ring, staring at one another, and awaited the opening bell. And then, after so many stops and starts in never-ending negotiations that past half decade, it was finally on.
Mayweather made his intentions clear from the outset, popping his jab and trying to follow with hard rights as Pacquiao pursued him while doing everything possible to avoid taking punishment.
Pacquiao got the crowd excited whenever he got close enough to let his quick hands fly but Mayweather almost invariably blunted the attack by holding onto the aggressor for dear life or spinning away.
That was the fight in a nutshell: Pacquiao trying desperately but failing to land punches and Mayweather doing just enough to win rounds.
Those who were hoping for an entertaining fight had to be bitterly disappointed. The fighters combined to land an average of only 19 total punches per round, no one went down and no one was hurt. In other words, there was very little drama.
But those who have followed Mayweather’s career weren’t the least bit surprised: The best fighter of his era had done the same thing so many times before. Mayweather did what it took to win – easily.
“We did what we had to do tonight,” Mayweather said.
Pacquiao thought he won the fight, saying immediately afterward, “He didn’t do anything. He was always moving outside.” In fact, Mayweather did more than enough to beat the one fighter many had thought could give him trouble because of the Filipino icon’s speed and volume punching. In the end, Pacquiao wasn’t much better than all the rest.
Pacquiao, a southpaw, claimed at the post-fight press conference that he injured his right shoulder during training several weeks ago and considered postponing the fight. But he became comfortable enough with the injury to go through with it. He said he began to feel pain in the fight in the third round.
Mayweather scoffed at Pacquiao’s claim, saying he fought with two injured hands.
“You always find a way to win,” he said.
Now what for Mayweather, who is 38?
First of all, he said at the post-fight press conference that he planned to give up all five of his championship belts — in two divisions — sometime soon because “other fighters need a chance. I’m not greedy.” He also is RING champion at junior middleweight and welterweight.
And Mayweather declared that he will fight once more, in September, and then call it quits. If he wins that fight and really walks away, he would finish his career a perfect 49-0 – the same record with which Hall of Famer Rocky Marciano retired.
“I have one more fight,” he said. “My last fight is in September and then it’s time for me to hang it up. I’m almost 40 years old now. I’ve been in the sport 19 years and have been champion for 18 years.
“I’m truly, truly blessed.”
Those who admire sublime skill felt the same way on Saturday. Those craving a memorable fight didn’t.