After 19 years of perfection in the ring, he deserved one final bow.
Mayweather capped a remarkable career with a typical Mayweather fight on Saturday night, using his defensive wizardry to frustrate Andre Berto on his way to a decision so lopsided that one judge gave him every round.
The $32 million he earned was pocket change compared to what he got for Manny Pacquiao in his last fight. But the more important number was win No 49 in the final fight of his unblemished career, tying the mark of the late heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano.
“You gotta know when to go. I’ve had a great career,” Mayweather said. “I’m leaving with all my faculties. I feel like I’m smart and sharp.”
Mayweather wasn’t about to change what he does best in his final fight. Both dominant and defensive, he used all the tricks learned in a pro career that began in 1996 to take a unanimous decision over Berto and retain his welterweight titles in what he insists was his last fight.
Mayweather won yet again in a fight where he was chased but never really tested. He piled up points with a sharp jab and quick counter punches, leaving fellow American Berto swinging at air most of the night. “What can I say, I was the better man tonight,” Mayweather said.
By the late rounds, Mayweather was both talking to Berto (30-4) and taunting him, secure in the knowledge he was winning big against the 18-1 underdog. In the final seconds of the fight he took a victory lap, as the 13,395 crowd stood and cheered at the MGM Grand arena.
The ringside scorecards reflected Mayweather’s dominance, with one judge scoring a 120-108 shutout. The other scores were 118-110 and 117-111.
Mayweather added to his pay-per-view riches once again, and again he didn’t seem to have to work too hard to make it. Berto, who had lost three of his last six fights, tried to make it a fight but his punches were wide and mostly missed their marks. Mayweather was credited with landing 232 of 410 punches, while Berto landed only 83 of 495.
“I pushed him to the limit,” Berto said. “He was just better.”
If Mayweather retires it will end a career that saw him become a pay-per-view star and earn more money than any boxer before him. Though most in boxing believe he will some day fight again, the 38-year-old said he had plenty of money and his health is more important than chasing records.
“I’ve accomplished everything,” Mayweather said. “I’ve done everything in my sport.”
He added ringside: “My career is over, that’s official. You’ve got to know when to hang it up. I’m close to 40 now. There’s nothing left to prove in the sport of boxing. Now I just want to spend time with my family.”
In his press conference afterwards Mayweather expressed his hope he can now help develop a fighter to emulate him. “I’ve accomplished everything in the sport, so now it is time for me to help these young fighters break my record,” he explained.
“I want to see my records broken – and of course, I want to be a part of it.”