​After months of hype, "Fight of the Century" goes distance

LAS VEGAS -- Floyd "Money" Mayweather outlasted opponent Manny Pacquiao to take one of the biggest billed fights of all time. In a unanimous decision, Mayweather, who kept control of the ring for most of the fight, landing punches when they counted, bested Pacquiao who swung with many of his punches failing to connect.

Mayweather (48-0) earned the WBO welterweight title, to add to the WBC and WBA belts he currently holds Saturday night. Pacquiao, who said he is unsure of his future after the bout, goes to a record of 57-6-2.

The fight, which many thought may never happened drew millions of global spectators and a sellout crowd in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with the cheapest seats going for $1,500. Considered the richest bout ever, the match was expected to bring in as much as $400 million in revenue. Mayweather will take home as much as $180 million, while Pacquiao will make $120 million.

Two judges favored Mayweather 116-112, while a third had it 118-110. The Associated Press scored it 115-113 for Mayweather, who says he will fight again in September, then hang up his boxing gloves for good.

Overall, Mayweather outboxed Pacquiao through the fight. He fought more strategically, conserved energy, and kept his opponent following him. Although Pacquiao won a few rounds and caught Mayweather against the ropes several times, by rounds 11 and 12, he fought with little strategy and looked for openings that never materialized.

"I fought a smart fight. I stayed outside. We did what we had to do tonight. When the history books are written, it will be worth the wait," said Mayweather, 38. "I outboxed him," Mayweather said. "He never figured out my jab and my right hand."

But Pacquiao felt that the judges were wrong and that he actually should have been the winner. "I thought I caught him many more times than he caught me," Pacquiao said. "I was never hurt. I was very surprised at the scores. I hit him more times than he hit me."

Pacquiao connected with just 19 percent of his total punches (81 of 429) and 27 percent of his power shots (63-236). His jab never found a home, landing just 9 percent of the time (18-193).

Mayweather was just as active, but much more accurate. He landed 34 percent of his total punches (148-435) and an impressive 25 percent of his jabs (67-267). His power shots were less frequent, but more effective, landing at 48 percent effectiveness (81-168).

There were no knockdowns, and neither fighter seemed terribly hurt at any time. Pacquiao landed probably the biggest punch in the fight in the fourth round - a left hand that sent Mayweather into the ropes - but he wasn't able to consistently land against the elusive champion.

The fight was a chess match, with Mayweather using his jab to keep Pacquiao away most of the fight. Pacquiao tried to force the action, but Mayweather was often out of his reach by the time he found his way inside.

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Floyd Mayweather reacts after defeating Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) in their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
REUTERS / USA Today Sports / Joe Camporeale

Ringside punch stats showed Mayweather landing 148 punches of 435, while Pacquiao landed 81 of 429. The volume of punches for Pacquiao was a lot lower than the 600-700 he usually throws in a fight as he tried to measure his aggression against an opponent who was hard to trap.

Mayweather fought confidently in the late rounds, winning the last two rounds on all three scorecards. In the final seconds of the fight he raised his right hand in victory and after the bell rang stood on the ropes, pounding his heart with his gloves.

Five years in the making, the richest fight ever unfolded before a glittering crowd of celebrities, high rollers and people who had enough money to pay for ringside seats going for $40,000 and up. Before it did, though, it was delayed about a half hour because cable and satellite systems were having trouble keeping up with the pay-per-view demand.

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Manny Pacquiao waves to the crowd after being defeated by Floyd Mayweather during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM in Garden Arena.
REUTERS / USA Today Sports / Joe Camporeale

The live gate alone was more than $70 million, and the bout was expected to easily smash the pay-per-view record of 2.48 million buys set in 2007 when Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya.

But while the frenzy over the fight pushed up tickets to 3-4 times their retail price the week of the fight, prices dropped dramatically as the fight neared and some tickets were being resold for less than face value.

Boxing fans called for the fight to be made five years ago, when both men were in their undisputed prime. But squabbles over promoters, drug testing and a variety of other issues sidelined it until Pacquiao beat Chris Algieri in November and immediately launched a campaign to get the fight made.

When they finally got it, it wasn't the fight it might have been five years ago. But it was enough to settle the question that boxing fans had asked for years - who would win the big welterweight matchup of the best fighters of their time.