Mayweather pays tribute to Pacquiao, calls Filipino a 'hell of a fighter'

Floyd Mayweather Jr. hugs Manny Pacquiao after defeating Pacquiao in their welterweight unification bout on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. -- PHOTO: AFP
Floyd Mayweather Jr. hugs Manny Pacquiao after defeating Pacquiao in their welterweight unification bout on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. -- PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS (AFP) - Floyd Mayweather hailed Manny Pacquiao as a "hell of a fighter" after taking his unblemished record to 48-0 with a unanimous decision over the Filipino on Saturday.

"He is a hell of a fighter," the American said of Pacquiao, the southpaw who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions.

"I take my hat off to him. Now I see why he's one of the guys that are at the pinnacle of the sport of boxing."

The clash between two of the most talented fighters of their generation was more than five years in the making, with no love lost between the camps.

Boxing purists felt the fight came too late - with each fighter past his prime. But there's no doubt the heightened anticipation resulting from the years of will-they, won't-they negotiating helped make the bout a financial blockbuster.

Total revenues were projected to reach as much as US$400 million (S$532 million). Mayweather expected to rake in US$200 million and Pacquiao was in line for a potential US$100 million payday once revenue from sources including pay-per-view television sales was counted.

"When the history books are written, this fight will have been worth the wait," Mayweather said, adding that 19 years of ring experience had prepared him for the most scrutinised fight of his career.

"He's a very awkward fighter, so I had to take my time and watch him close.

"All 47 fights before I got to this fight played a major key in my career.

"He had some moments in the fight, but I kept him on the outside. I was a smart fighter. I wasn't getting hit with a lot of shots until I sat in the pocket, that's when he would land a lot of shots."