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LAS VEGAS – All of the attributes that have made Floyd Mayweather Jr. one of the elite fighters to have stepped into a boxing ring were on display in his one-sided victory over Shane Mosley on Saturday before a crowd of 15,117 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Mayweather's blistering speed continually made Mosley look like he was stuck in quicksand. He adjusted after getting hurt with a punishing right hand in the second, proving his boxing IQ is second to none.
His legendary defensive skills held Mosley to fewer than 100 punches landed and just a 20 percent connect rate.
Yet it was offense that won the fight for Mayweather. He walked down a man who was touted as too big, too strong and too hard a puncher.
He won 10 rounds on judge Bobby Hoyle's card and took all but the second on the cards of Dave Moretti and Adalaide Byrd. Yahoo! Sports scored it 118-110.
He did it by stalking Mosley and putting on an offensive show that makes it even more imperative that he meet Manny Pacquiao sometime later this year to determine in the ring the sport's best fighter.
Mayweather, who has been tortured by critics for not fighting what were perceived to be legitimate welterweights, went after Mosley and had the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world in full retreat and hanging on in the second half of the fight.
By about the ninth round, it was obvious Mosley was just hoping to make it to the finish line on his feet.
Mayweather was spoiling for a fight from the early moments. In the middle of the bout, after repeated incidents in which they would wrestle on the inside and then touch gloves, they began to jaw at each other. As Mosley was talking, Mayweather cracked him with a right hand in the nose.
"I said, 'Let's quit talking and quit touching gloves and let's fight,' " Mayweather said.
There had to be many jaws that dropped upon hearing those words from Mayweather, who abandoned his defensive shell and won over many of the Mosley supporters in the crowd in the process.
It was such a brilliant performance that promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who lost bouts to Pacquiao, Mayweather and Mosley, the three men who sit atop the Yahoo! Sports rankings, said Mayweather's seemingly outrageous pre-fight boast of being the greatest fighter of all time isn't even that much out of line.
"We've just witnessed the best fighter, the best boxer, on the planet," De La Hoya said. "Mayweather is, no doubt about it in my mind, in Mosley's mind, and anybody's mind, he is the best. He keeps on proving it over and over and over again. Tonight convinced me.
"He is the best, possibly – possibly, and there are a lot of people who will argue this – but he is maybe the best of all time."
It was heady praise coming from a future Hall of Famer, but it is clear Mayweather deserves a spot among the best who have lived.
Before the fight, Mosley's trainer Naazim Richardson heaped praise upon Mayweather, which many took as a tactic to try to lull Mayweather to sleep. Richardson had said before the fight that if Mosley hurt Mayweather, Mayweather would turn into a dragon.
Richardson clearly was prophetic, because after the second of two blistering straight rights in the second, Mayweather was in trouble. But he regrouped and began to attack Mosley.
"He came back spitting fireballs," Richardson said.
Mayweather has been derided as a runner and a safety-first fighter, but on this night, he took the center of the ring and carried the fight to a man who had knocked out nearly 80 percent of the men he had faced.
Mayweather repeatedly fired a straight right that was snapping Mosley's head and began to raise welts around his eyes by the fifth round. When Mosley would try to jab, Mayweather would revert to one of the best punches in his arsenal, the pull counter. He'd rock back and then fire over the top of the jab.
Mosley blew his only chance, when he hurt Mayweather in the second and failed to capitalize.
"I was this close," Mosley said with a grimace, holding his fingers an inch or so apart. He never came close again. Mayweather has spent the last several months behind Pacquiao on most pound-for-pound lists, but made a statement Saturday.
According to CompuBox, he connected on an amazing 123 of 267 power shots, an almost unheard of number against a fighter the quality of Mosley.
Pacquiao was the toast of the boxing world after his spectacular stoppage of Miguel Cotto in November, but Mayweather may have won back a lot of the critics after his effort against Mosley.
"I'm not saying Manny Pacquiao's not a good fighter [because] he is a good fighter," Mayweather said. "But I have the will to win when I get up under them lights. Like I said before, we may all hit the bag alike. We may all do the pad work alike. We may all jump rope the same. But we don't all perform under the lights the same."
Pacquiao is the only man in the sport performing at anywhere near Mayweather's level. He's the only man at welterweight who would have the ability to push Mayweather and make him so much as strain.
The same issue that scuttled a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in January – Mayweather's insistence on random blood and urine testing and Pacquiao's reluctance to give blood – still exist.
There is little love lost between Mayweather and Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum, which also will be an impediment to getting the bout the world wants to see made.
Further complicating the issue may be the success of Saturday's pay-per-view. Early indications are the Mayweather-Mosley fight will do around 1.5 million on pay-per-view, which would make it the second-largest non-heavyweight pay-per-view bout ever, behind only De La Hoya-Mayweather.
Mayweather and Pacquiao had agreed on a 50-50 monetary split in January, but with Mayweather outdrawing Pacquiao at the pay-per-view window yet again, it's unlikely he'll make that concession.
If it happens, it will be even more highly anticipated than it was while it was being discussed in December, because now Mayweather has proven his offensive skills.
"He's a hell of a fighter," Mosley said in tribute.
And Mayweather-Pacquiao is a hell of a fight.
The onus is now on Mayweather's team of Leonard Ellerbe, Al Haymon and Richard Schaefer and Pacquiao's team of Arum and Michael Koncz to find common ground and make the fight.
The sport is a joke if that fight doesn't occur.