38 year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr. used nearly 20 years of experience in the ring to eventually best his 36 year-old left-handed opponent with a unanimous decision by the judges in his hometown of Las Vegas yesterday. Mayweather’s professional record now stands at 48-0.
Manny Pacquiao, the crowd favorite, frustrated his opponent throughout the match while Mayweather withstood jeers and boos from the moment he stepped into the ring until he walked away as the reining welterweight champion of the world. Both men walked away from the match much wealthier with Mayweather producing a check from his shirt pocket for $100 million. That number is sure to grow upon a final tally and Pacquiao’s pay day will surely surpass that as well.
Mayweather is no stranger to hunkering down in a corner or fighting with his back to the ropes and Pacquiao took advantage his position and released several series of furious blow-streams in the final seconds of many early rounds raising fans to their feet and eliciting rousing cheers. However, in the end it was Mayweather’s concentration and strategy that won the day.
Unbeknownst to Mayweather, Pacquiao injured his right shoulder several weeks ago in training. After the fight he said he injured it again in round three – taking the power out of his flurries of body blows that seemed to leave the champ undamaged.
“Manny Pacquiao is a hell of a fighter, I see now why he is at the pinnacle of boxing,” Mayweather said at the end of the match. “I’m a smart fighter, I outboxed him.”
Pacquiao is a national hero of the Philippines and has many facets of public popularity there including roles as a professional basketball player, singer, and congressman. His countrymen took the loss hard and want to see a rematch. Mayweather has one fight left on his Showtime contract, and Filipinos would like to see him use it to give Pacquiao another shot – and they want the fight to be in Manila this time.
In Pacquiao’s hometown of General Santos City the streets were empty and quiet with nearly everybody glued to big screens in parks, theaters, and army bases or in their homes to cheer their champion on. Filipino adoration of Pacquiao runs from the most humble of citizens to the country’s president who thanked him for inspiring his countrymen to strive for better lives.
“He fought for respect, not points,” Edwin Lacierda, the president’s spokesman, said. “He won the hearts of the world.”