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May 03, 2015

Did Pacquiao's pre-existing injury alter fight of the century?

LAS VEGAS, NV — He hid it well. Then again, Floyd Mayweather has always hidden it well. With the whole world watching a small raised square of illuminated canvas Saturday night, with Michael Jordan in his Fidel Castro hat, Beyonce and Jay Z looking like wax figurines, and a scruffy Denzel Washington all ringside, each eye of the packed MGM Grand Arena mesmerized by his every movement, the most insecure man in the house stood center stage.

Mayweather finally met Manny Pacquiao in a fight sports fans have been craving for the last six years. And all of that visceral uncertainty that had been coursing through Mayweather’s veins came spilling out in a virtuoso performance.

The world’s best fist fighter, the one who has to get that one last 2 a.m. workout in, because he doesn’t feel he’s completely prepared, the man who likes to flash wads of cash around, because he wants to remind everyone how rich he is when in his mind he’s not wealthy enough, did what most expected him to do.

He won.

“I thought I won the fight," Pacquiao said. "I thought I hurt him many times, but he didn’t hurt me. I hurt him three or four times. But I was only able to use my left hand. It’s hard to fight with one hand.”

The 38-year-old Mayweather drove his pristine record to 48-0, (26 KOs) with a rather easy unanimous 12-round decision over Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) in a fight that carried little intrigue and probably had more than a few first-time boxing viewers scratching their heads and wondering what the hell all the hype was about.

Immediately after the fight, word spread that Pacquiao had injured his right shoulder while training and was denied an anti-inflammatory shot by the Nevada Athletic Commission before the fight.

Whether that would have had any impact on the final outcome is dubious at best, considering Mayweather’s domination, through the masterly way he used distance and accurate counter rights.

“This training camp, we were about to postpone, because I didn’t train for two weeks …” Pacquiao said. “My shoulder started getting better and better, and I was able to use it. I’m used to being more aggressive, but there was too much pain and I could only use my left hand.

“I thought I won the fight. I thought I hurt him many times, but he didn’t hurt me. I hurt him three or four times. But I was only able to use my left hand. It’s hard to fight with one hand.”

Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, confirmed that “Pac-Man” had issues with his right shoulder, and that manifested itself by how infrequent he used his right hand. When asked why he let the injured Pacquiao fight in an event of this magnitude, knowing he was hurt, Arum said, “Athletes always fight hurt, and we felt that the work that was done on the shoulder during training would give him the opportunity to use the right hand, and we were disappointed when in third round, the injury kicked up again.

“But this is always the case with sports. A guy is injured in training and he then deals with the injury and thinks he’s conquered it and then it gets re-injured in the game. It happens in football. It happens in every sport.”

Though Arum said Pacquiao’s injury flared up in the third round, his best round was the fourth against Mayweather.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer, truly believed his fighter did enough to win.

“I thought Floyd ran very well,” Roach said. “When he wasn’t throwing punches, Floyd was just running and moving backwards, and felt Manny should have won a lot of those rounds because he was the aggressor. But it didn’t go that way.”

Mayweather, now owner of all the major welterweight belts, defused all of the drama by keeping his distance from the still-dangerous, pint-sized Filipino dynamo. “Money” used a precise jab, clean power punches and was at his elusive best in winning almost every second of every round.

Mayweather used his height (5-foot-8 to Pacquiao’s 5-6) and reach advantage (72-inch reach to Manny’s 67) in convincing judge Dave Moretti to score it 118-110 for Mayweather, while judges Burt A. Clements and Glenn Feldman, each had it 116-112 for Mayweather., seated ringside, had is like Clements and Feldman, scoring it 116-112 for Mayweather, or eight rounds to four.

Mayweather landed a total of 148 of 435 punches, to Pacquiao’s 81 of 429. Mayweather used the jab very well, connecting on 67 of 267, to Pacquiao’s paltry 18 of 193, and the power shots were also owned by “Money,” who landed 81 of 168 power shots and Pacquiao connected on 63 of 236 power shots.

Mayweather said that patience, his jab and his counter right were the keys to his victory.

“Like I said before this fight, my love and passion for boxing is not the same like it once was,” Mayweather said. “I had injuries also going into this fight, and if he would have come out victorious, the only thing I would say is I have to show respect and I was beat by the better man. He was applying pressure, but he wasn’t landing any punches. I was constantly keeping a jab in his face. Both of my arms were injured. Both of my hands were injured. But like I said before, I will always find a way to win. I knew I had him from round one.”