LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao came ready to fight Saturday but he was hampered by a right shoulder injury incurred two weeks ago which may have affected his bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. to whom he lost by unanimous decision Saturday at the sold-out MGM Grand Arena.
The injury was not evident. Pacquiao fought gamely and never showed the effects of the shoulder that was hurt during training.
But his promoter Bob Arum disclosed during the post-fight press briefing that Manny was hurt and some insiders said he may need shoulder surgery that may put him out of action for nine months.
Hurt or not, Manny produced a strong performance, although age and wear and tear had slowed him down noticeably.
He could not effectively hurt Mayweather whose technical brilliance was in full flower throughout the 12-round encounter where the American showed his competence and expertise.
There were no knockdowns, no blood and both fighters did not show any sign of facial disfigurement after the fight. They looked almost the same when they left the ring as when they stepped on it although Pacquiao had a small lump below his right eye.
Mayweather has now extended his winning streak to 48-0, moving him one win short of matching the 49-0 of Rocky Marciano. Pacquiao is now 57-6-2.
He also unified all three welterweight titles winning Pacquiao’s WBO crown and retaining his WBA and WBC titles.
In defeat, Pacquiao earned Mayweather’s respect.
“He is a hell of fighter,” he said. “I take my hat off to him.”
“Now I see why he’s one of the guys that are at the pinnacle of the sport of boxing.”
Pacquiao, who is expected to earn no less than $100 million from the fight which has been projected to gross $400,000, said he had no complaints, and said, “Even though I hurt my shoulder, I am not making any alibi. I don’t want to complain about it.”
Early reports said Pacquiao hurt his shoulder last month during training. And about two hours before the fight, his handlers had asked that he take a medical shot.
The Nevada Boxing Commission, however, disallowed it, the fight being just a few hours away. It also said they were never informed about the injury way ahead of time.
It was also gathered that the Pacquiao camp had considered postponing the fight, but ruled against it and the fight, the richest and most anticipated in history, proceeded.
Fighting gamely and losing badly did not seem to affect Pacquiao’s stature as the People’s Champ. The crowd at MGM Grand Arena, which sold out all of its 16,000 seats plus a few hundred more, showered him with love and affection.
His entry was greeted with chants and he also was sent off with cheers. Mayweather did not seem to electrify the crowd and the decision was widely booed.
Pacquiao kept on attacking and nowhere in the match did he show that he was hurting. He repeatedly tried to engage Mayweather to a toe-to-toe exchange . But the American stuck to his game plan. He moved like a well-oiled machine, side-stepping Pacquiao’s flurries and his jabs kept hitting its mark.
The crowd sensed that Mayweather was winning the fight and Pacquiao was showing frustration with each round as he chased Mayweather. He might as well have been chasing a ghost.
The crowd tried to encourage Pacquiao, chanting his name but it was not his day. His flurry of punches produced roars but not points as his punches landed on Mayweather’s gloves.
“I thought I won,” said Pacquiao after the fight. “I got him many times, I saw his punches.”
But he also admitted that it was difficult to fully engage Mayweather.
“He was moving around too much, it wasn’t easy throwing punches at him. If he stayed in one place then I could have thrown more punches.”
Mayweather, at 5-foot-8, was two inches taller than Pacquiao. But Pacquiao said this did not affect the outcome of the match. “Size does not matter. I’ve fought guys bigger than him and had no problem.”
Though branded as the Fight of the Century, the meeting between two fighters at the top of their game did not fully satisfy the crowd which included several Hollywood celebrities, sports figures and titans of business.
Many of them had paid ringside tickets of as much as $10,000 and many secured theirs in the secondary market for $40,000.
The victory cemented Mayweather’s legacy as the greatest fighter of his generation. But many experts said he does not rank among the best and could not be compared with greats such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard or Roberto Duran.
Mayweather said he was ready for Pacquiao.
“I knew he was going to push it and win some rounds,” he said.
“He had some moments , but I kept him on the outside, I was a smart fighter.”
Mayweather, 38, said he has one more fight left in his six-fight contract with Showtime and he will fight again in September.
Pacquiao, 36, also said he plans to fight in September but both sides said nothing about a second meeting.
But perhaps that fight, if it happens, will not create the same buzz and hype like tonight’s when analysts predicted it would be a fight for the ages.
Pacquiao’s biggest round was the fourth, where he staggered Mayweather, and all the judges gave the round to him.
Other rounds that went to Pacquiao were the sixth, ninth and 10th in two of judges’ score cards, while one judge only gave him the fourth and sixth rounds.
Based on the Compubox statistics, Mayweather threw 435 punches while Pacquiao delivered 429. But Mayweather landed 148 punches and Pacquiao only 81, just 19 percent compared to Floyd’s 34 percent.
Mayweather threw 267 jabs, landed 67, while Pacquiao had 93 jabs and landed 18.
Pacquiao had more power punches thrown, 236, against Floyd’s 168. But again, Floyd landed more — 81, against Pacquiao’s 63.