LAS VEGAS – Across nearly two decades, 46 different men have stepped into the ring with Floyd Mayweather, a couple of them twice.
No one ever really hit him. No one ever cornered him into a brawl. No one was able to match his boxing talent and turn him into a desperate brawler in a desperate brawl … the kind fans understandably want to watch.
Saturday was no different. Ultimately, Manny Pacquiao was no different, left chasing and swinging and getting popped in the face and in the end ... failing. Maybe it would’ve been different five years go, or even three, but who knows. Mayweather may have figured it out then too.
Floyd Mayweather once again won handily here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, taking the megafight with a unanimous decision, 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112.
For the 16,507 who paid big bucks to be here in person and the even bigger audience that tuned in on pay-per-view, the ones that pay attention to boxing only so often, this may have been a boring fight.
Fair enough. But this wasn’t so much a boring fight as a Floyd Mayweather fight, and you can label it dull if you wish, rail that he just doesn’t excite the masses with the offense everyone craves, but this is exactly what was likely to happen.
There is a wizard-like quality to what the man has accomplished in the ring.
"Manny Pacquiao is a tough competitor," Mayweather said after. "My dad [and trainer] wanted me to do more. He’s a very awkward fighter. I had to take my time and watch him very close."
It’s not exactly the stuff that sends chills through a crowd but that was what this fight was about, Mayweather watching closely and figuring Pacquiao out. That’s boxing. It can’t all be Hagler-Hearns.
There was an old Mike Tyson line about going into a fight and hearing about his opponent’s strategy to take him out.
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth," Tyson said.
Against Mayweather, everyone has a plan until they can’t punch him in the mouth.
Sure, everybody wishes it was like Tyson. Everybody loved those epic bouts; the raw fury and anything-could-happen next feel to a fight. It’s boxing at its most primal.
Mayweather is the exact opposite, as sure as death and taxes. He always controls the fight. He always makes the other guy bend to his will and his way, what will and way he believes will be the most successful.
He’s also more successful than Iron Mike could’ve ever dreamed.
"I thought I caught him many more times than he hit me," Pacquiao said.
Compubox says otherwise, giving Mayweather a 148-81 advantage in punches landed and 81-63 in power punches.
"I was never hurt," Pacquiao said. "Very surprised by the score."
He’s kidding himself. Mayweather dictated the pace here. Pacquiao once had a fight against Antonio Margarito, who was five inches taller and 20 pounds heavier, and Pacquiao unloaded an outrageous 1,069 punches. Against Mayweather, he could manage just 40.1 percent of that total, a one-time tornado forced into inactivity.
"All of Pacquiao’s tactical stuff, you can’t do all those things with Floyd that you can do with other fighters," Floyd Mayweather Sr. said after.
"I wasn’t getting hit by a lot of shots unless I sat there in the pocket," Mayweather said.
So he was smart enough to realize that and change his game plan on the fly. How many fighters can do that? Mayweather got out of the pocket and moved to the outside. He was able to avoid disaster with his back to the ropes, even backed into a corner. His left was epically quick.
"I’m 10 steps ahead of any fight," Mayweather said. "Other fighters got baited into going toe-to-toe with Manny. And that’s what he wanted."
Did it look like Floyd was running? He actually threw more punches, 435-429.
This was a clinic. Mayweather fights are always a clinic.
It’s just an unsatisfying clinic to watch, with everyone amped up for a full-on fight, with Mayweather so easy to dislike with his history with domestic violence and arrogance to anyone who calls him on it.
In the end it doesn’t matter though. This is boxing and the man is one of the greatest pure boxers the sport has ever seen. There until he isn’t. Avoiding danger with ease. Leaving all those opponents frustrated and at times furious.
This has been an exciting era for the sport, especially in the weight classes that fluctuate around 140 pounds. Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marcos Maidana, Antonio Margarito, "Sugar" Shane Mosley and so on.
There have been so many epic clashes between them, so many huge knockouts, so many thrilling back-and-forth battles. The mainstream sports fan didn’t watch those. They didn’t get pay-per-view orders so big the cable companies crumbled trying to meet demand.
None of the great fights really occurred when they took on the king of this generation. None of them could catch Mayweather flush, get ahead on the cards, make him dig deep and slug it out. None. And none may ever do it. He says he’ll fight once more, in September, and then call it a career.
"I’m almost 40 years old," Mayweather said.
Floyd Mayweather is the undisputed champ, best of the best of this time, and yet he may never have had a truly memorable fight, never that lonely moment of panic where you just didn’t know.
He’s too good. He’s too fast.
He may be too boring.
He’s also 48-0.