Boxing: Mayweather bows out on a high note

By beating Andre Berto (left), Floyd Mayweather cemented his place among the pantheon of boxing greats. He improved his perfect career record to 49-0, matching the benchmark set by former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Saturday's fight, however
By beating Andre Berto (left), Floyd Mayweather cemented his place among the pantheon of boxing greats. He improved his perfect career record to 49-0, matching the benchmark set by former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Saturday's fight, however, was far from a classic.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LAS VEGAS • Floyd Mayweather Jr cemented his place among the pantheon of boxing greats with a unanimous decision over fellow American Andre Berto on Saturday in what he has repeatedly said would be the final fight of his career.

Mayweather, 38, easily outfought his younger opponent over the 12 rounds to retain his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association welterweight titles. He also improved his perfect career record to 49-0, matching the benchmark set by former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.

The five-division world champion dominated most of the exchanges in the MGM Grand Garden Arena with his lightning jabs, control of space and agile movement around the ring to finish well ahead on all three judges' scorecards.

Berto, a 30-1 underdog against one of the best defensive fighters of all time, dropped to 30-4 as he suffered his fourth loss in his last seven fights.

"Experience played a major role tonight. He is a very athletic boxer. What can I say? I was the better man tonight," Mayweather said.

Asked if he might be tempted to come back for a 50th fight, he replied: "My career is over... I'm close to 40 years old, I've been in this sport (for) 19 years, been world champion for 18 years. I've broken all records."

"There's nothing left to prove in the sport of boxing," added Mayweather, who has made more than US$700 million (S$988.7 million) during his stellar career.

Back in the ring for the first time since May, when he beat Filipino Manny Pacquiao in a mega-fight, he landed 232 of 410 punches thrown while Berto connected with just 83 of 495.

Mayweather also dominated the jabs count, connecting with 83 of 191 compared to his opponent's paltry 39 of 301.

But it was a welterweight showdown that failed to capture the public's imagination, given Berto's relatively low profile globally and his mixed run of results over the past four years. And it was low on entertainment value on the night.

Hours before the start, the MGM Grand box office said "a bunch of tickets" were still available.

Having skipped the contest, Pacquiao lazily fiddled with a piano app on his phone, saying he was "bored". The Filipino boxing champion tapped an off-key tune on his iPhone while lounging in bed. "What I do when I'm bored. Hehe," he captioned the Instagram post.

The eight-division world champion then sniggered, smiled and rolled over. He did not mention Mayweather in the post but the hundreds who commented on the post saw it as Pacquiao's dig at his rival.

Berto, however, paid tribute to Mayweather after a sometimes prickly fight that included the referee telling the two fighters to stop trash-talking one another in the ring.

"He is sharp. To be 38 and still have that speed is unheard of and I commend him for that," said the 32-year-old two-time former welterweight world champion, adding that Mayweather's boxing IQ was his most impressive attribute.

"He knows how to use movement for rest time and come back with a few punches. He is real smart."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'Mayweather bows out on a high note'. Print Edition | Subscribe