Sunday, May 3, 2015 | 3 a.m.
The most vocal subset of the sports world, including several of the 16,507 people in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, went from enamored to indignant with boxing over the course of 36 minutes Saturday night.
The response left Floyd Mayweather Jr. indifferent. A consensus opinion formed that Mayweather’s unanimous-decision victory (118-110, 118-110, 116-112) over Manny Pacquiao fell short of expectations.
Mayweather dismissed complaints from those who felt they didn’t get the payoff from five years of anticipation, $70 million in ticket sales and $100 pay-per-view price.
“It doesn’t matter who I fight,” Mayweather shrugged afterwards. “It’s just like when I fought Ricky Hatton and knocked out Ricky Hatton, they still booed me. So it’s what I’m used to.”
Mayweather (48-0), conquered his one supposed equal of the era, a fighter in Pacquiao (57-6-2) that he was accused of ducking repeatedly over the years.
And it wasn’t particularly close. Pacquiao never led on a single judges’ scorecard. Mayweather landed almost twice the amount of punches with the total coming out to 148 to 81, according to CompuBox.
So Mayweather saw no reason to apologize or dignify the idea that the fight was underwhelming, even when the criticisms surrounded him. His own father and trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., expressed disappointment.
Although Mayweather Sr. believed Mayweather Jr. had won, he said there was enough uncertainty that the wait to hear the judges’ scorecards was suspenseful. Mayweather Sr. thought Pacquiao won more rounds than the pair of 118-110 scorecards indicated.
“I wanted him to come forward and throw more punches,” Mayweather Sr. said. “My son usually does what I say…Floyd fought well enough to beat the guy but he didn’t fight like I wanted him to. He could have fought better.”
Mayweather Jr., in his usual defensive fashion, was content to fall back, let Pacquiao swing away and counter-punch at the sight of any opening. The strategy led to winning each of the first three rounds on every scorecard, giving Mayweather confidence to stick with the plan.
“The Manny Team”, a moniker Pacquiao’s camp began using as a needle to Mayweather Jr.’s “The Money Team”, made Mayweather Sr.’s review sound flattering. Beneath an avalanche of cheers from a crowd partial to him, Pacquiao’s first words after the fight were that he thought he defeated Mayweather Jr.
Pacquiao had cooled down at the post-fight press conference two hours later — though he still thought he deserved the decision — but trainer Freddie Roach picked up the resentment for his fighter.
“I thought he ran very well,” Roach said of Mayweather’s performance. “He wasn’t landing a bunch of punches. He was just running and moving backwards. I thought Manny should have won a lot of those rounds because he was the aggressor.”
But Pacquiao’s output wasn’t as prolific as normal. Pacquiao threw fewer punches than Mayweather Jr., 435 to 429, which no one would have predicted considering he routinely attempted more than 800 in his heyday.
Unlike Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao supplied an excuse for his showing. He said that an MRI three weeks ago showed a tear in his right shoulder.
Pacquiao trained through the pain, but worried about it Saturday. He requested a painkiller before the fight, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission wouldn’t approve a shot of lidocaine because Pacquiao hadn’t disclosed any injuries on official paperwork.
Roach said the shoulder limited Pacquiao more severely as the fight progressed.
“We were working on putting Mayweather on the ropes, keeping him guessing and it actually worked out quite well,” Roach said. “It was very effective. He just didn’t do enough of it. Once he told me his shoulder was hurt and he was having trouble throwing, it was much harder to get those punches off more often in the fight.”
Top Rank CEO and Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum reported the injury flared up in the third round, but the fourth was his most successful. Pacquiao rocked Mayweather Jr. with a left hand in the opening 20 seconds and landed an ensuing flurry that caused the loudest roar of the night in the arena.
He wouldn’t land a shot as cleanly and powerfully again.
“It’s not going to bother me because I fought a good fight,” Pacquiao said. “I did my best. The people are happy because even though I hurt my shoulder, I didn’t complain in the ring. It’s part of the game.”
Mayweather Jr. had no sympathy for Pacquiao’s shoulder problems, which didn’t compel him to grant a rematch.
“I had injuries also going into this fight,” he said. “If he would have come out victorious, the only thing I would have said was, ‘you know what? I’ve got to show respect and say he’s the better man because he beat me.’ Both of my arms were injured, both of my hands were injured but I will always find a way to win.”
Mayweather Jr. preached that money was more important to him than legacy and that he was “over” boxing in the months leading up to the bout. His attitude after beating Pacquiao tipped further in that direction.
The 38-year-old Mayweather announced that he would relinquish all of his championship belts within the next two weeks to give younger fighters an opportunity. He vowed that the final fight of his career would be a non-title bout in September.
When Mayweather Jr. turned restless after defending the fight at the end of the press conference, he flashed the paycheck he received in his dressing room. It was for $100 million.
“The ultimate goal was to make nine figures in one night,” Mayweather said, “and that’s what we did.”