LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES (MAY 2, 2015) (MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO) – Floyd Mayweather Jr. cemented his place among the pantheon of boxing greats by improving to 48-0 with a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday (May 2) 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.
“Manny’s a remarkable fighter, he’s an unbelievable fighter,” Mayweather said 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.
The fight between the two greatest boxers of their generation was one that appeared might never happen as Pacquiao resisted Mayweather’s demands for blood-testing for five years.
When the two camps finally hammered out a deal, it 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 $120 million and Pacquiao $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.
“I’m just an American dream, I worked hard to put my family in a great situation, but for tomorrow for all those who wrote bad stories about me, I’m going to wake up early in the morning and I want to see your stories tomorrow.”
Mayweather said that he would fight again but that his next bout would be his last.
“I made a decision in the back that my last fight may not be a championship fight. I’m going to give up all my belts, it’s still going to be a 12 round fight but I’m going to relinquish all the belts.”
Dubbed the “Fight of the Century” 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 Michael Jordan, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and billionaire Donald Trump.
With prime seats commanding six-figure sums on the resale market even the very wealthy and very famous were forced to call in favours to secure a golden ticket while an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 fight fans flooded into the desert gambling capital to be part of the buzz.
Wearing a simple white T-shirt, Pacquiao knelt in his corner for a prayer as boos filled the hall when Mayweather appeared on the giant screens.
There were no smiles from the stone-faced American as he entered the ring wearing black white and gold trunks and sporting a $23,000 mouth guard infused with flecks of gold and pieces of a hundred dollar bill.
Five years of hype then reached a climax when famed announcer Jimmy Lennon stood in the centre of the ring and told the crowd, “the wait is over, it’s go time”.
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.
“I did my best, but my best wasn’t good enough,” said Pacquiao, who said he was hampered by a shoulder injury. “Two weeks before the fight, one week before the fight, my shoulder is getting better and better but not really totally 100 percent. It recovered but at least I can use it, something wrong.”