Last night, after years and years of build up and anticipation, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally stepped into the ring. It was that rare moment in combat sports where the two undisputed best of an era fight to determine who was the true king. And the answer in this case was clear and definitive.
Over the course of 12 rounds, Floyd Mayweather controlled Manny Pacquiao en route to a pretty clear unanimous decision victory. Mayweather did what he has done time and time again - he took a great fighter, made him look normal, and turned it into Just Another Mayweather Fight. It's what he did against Canelo Alvarez, it's what he did in the rematch with Marcos Maidana, and it's what he did last night against Manny Pacquiao.
By utilizing his superb defense and mixing in excellently timed right hands and counters (perfect for the southpaw Pacquiao), Mayweather effectively shut down Pacquiao through most of the fight. Heading in to the evening, the common perception was that Pacquiao, the more offensive fighter of the two, would need to throw a high volume of punches to beat Mayweather. He did not, and the result was as expected.
Pacquiao did indeed have his moments, including a nice left hand in the 4th that stands as one of the best punches landed on Mayweather since Shane Mosley wobbled him years ago. He also had a clear gameplan of getting Mayweather against the ropes and unloading, building off the success Maidana found in their first fight. A few times that worked for Pacquiao, but more often than not, Mayweather avoided the shots, circled out, and clinched up, nullifying Pacquiao's game.
It was, once again a master class performance from Floyd Mayweather - clearly the greatest fighter of our era. But it was also not filled with fireworks, and you can expect the public backlash to this "boring" fight to be loud.
Some other key takeaways from the evening:
- If there is any controversy (and there really shouldn't be), it could be around the clinching. Mayweather did indeed clinch a lot - it was an obvious aspect of his gameplan - and received little in the way of warning. But again, I don't see the need to get worked up over that.
- Post-fight, Mayweather stated that he would fight in September for Showtime (the last fight on his Showtime contract), and then retire. That would be his 49th fight, one fight shy of passing Rocky Marciano's record and getting to 50-0, which has been seen as Mayweather's benchmark for quite some time. We'll see if September is indeed his last fight, or if he leverages that "retirement" for one final massive payday.
- Possible opponents discussed on the broadcast for September: Amir Khan and Keith Thurman. Neither has a real shot (because if Mayweather can do that to Pacquiao, who really does?), but personally I would rather see Thurman, who at least has the offensive skills and power to make for some interesting moments.
- Hard to say where Pacquiao goes from here. Post-fight, he said he felt he won. I'm willing to write that up as the heat of the moment, because he clearly didn't, and I don't think Freddie Roach is delusional enough to think so either. Honestly, it would not surprise me at all if there were very, very few fights left from Pacquiao at this point either.
- One of the major aspects of this fight is the money story - how many PPV buys, how much revenue, etc. Those numbers will be interesting to watch come in during the coming week.
- On the undercard, Leo Santa Cruz earned an easy decision victory, but continued to annoy many boxing fans with his opponent selection. Jose Cayetano was clearly overmatched from the moment the fight was announced, but Santa Cruz was never quite able to put him away. There's talk of Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares, but if Santa Cruz doesn't fight someone worthwhile next, the backlash will be powerful.
- Opening the show was the highly talented Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko dissected Gamalier Rodriguez, finally forcing him to take a knee and stay down in the 9th round. It's been fascinating watching Lomachenko develop, as he brings to the table some of the best pure boxing skills in the entire game, but he's now learning more and more how to use those skills in a pro setting. A Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux fight just must happen at some point, and soon I hope.