LAS VEGAS (AP) — The pressure of a $180 million payday never got to Floyd Mayweather Jr., even if the richest fight ever wasn’t the best.
Using his reach and his jab Saturday night, Mayweather frustrated Manny Pacquiao, piling up enough points to win a unanimous decision in their welterweight title bout. Mayweather remained unbeaten in 48 fights with a win that cemented his legacy as the best of his generation.
Pacquiao did what he wanted to do, chasing Mayweather around the ring most of the fight. But he was never able to land a sustained volume of punches, often looking frustrated with his hands finding nothing but air as Mayweather worked his defensive wizardry once again.
Two ringside judges scored the fight 116-112, while the third had it 118-110. The Associated Press had Mayweather ahead 115-113.
“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 richest fight in boxing history — a bout that made Mayweather at least $180 million — wasn’t an artistic triumph for either fighter. Far from it, with long periods where both men fought cautiously, looking for an edge.
Pacquiao threw far fewer punches than he normally does in a fight, with Mayweather actually credited with throwing more.
“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.”
There were no knockdowns, and neither fighter seemed terribly hurt at any time. Pacquiao landed probably the biggest punch in the fight in the fourth round — a left hand that sent Mayweather into the ropes — but he wasn’t able to consistently land against the elusive champion.
The fight was a chess match, with Mayweather using his jab to keep Pacquiao away most of the fight. Pacquiao tried to force the action, but Mayweather was often out of his reach by the time he found his way inside.
“He’s a very awkward fighter, so I had to take my time and watch him close,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather fought confidently in the late rounds, winning the last two rounds on all three scorecards. In the final seconds of the fight he raised his right hand in victory and after the bell rang stood on the ropes, pounding his heart with his gloves.
“You’re tough,” he said to Pacquiao, hugging him in the ring.
It was vintage Mayweather, even if it didn’t please the crowd of 16,507 that paid prices unheard of for a title fight. They cheered every time Pacquiao threw a punch, hoping against hope that he would land a big shot and become the first fighter to beat Mayweather.
But a good percentage of what he threw never landed. Mayweather often came back with straight right hands, then moved away before Pacquiao could respond.
“I thought we pulled it out,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said. “I asked my man to throw more combinations between rounds. I thought he fought flat-footed too many times.”
Ringside punch stats showed Mayweather landing 148 punches of 435, while Pacquiao landed 81 of 429. The volume of punches for Pacquiao was a lot lower than the 700 or more he usually throws in a fight as he tried to measure his aggression against an opponent who was hard to trap.
In the corner between rounds, Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr. kept yelling at his son to do more. But Mayweather was content to stick with what was working and not take a risk that could cost him the fight.
“I’m a calculated fighter, he is a tough competitor,” Mayweather said. “My dad wanted me to do more but Pacquiao is an awkward fighter.”
Mayweather said that his fight in September against a yet-to-be-determined opponent would be his last.
“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.”