By TIM DAHLBERG
AP Sports Columnist
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. wanted to put on a show and he did, from the moment he entered the arena accompanied by acrobats on stilts tossing fake $100 bills to the final seconds of the 12th round when he finished giving Shane Mosley a beating.
Manny Pacquiao took a break from campaigning for congress in the Philippines to watch on television, and was impressed. So, too, was most everyone at Mayweather’s post-fight press conference, though there was some concern over the right hand from Mosley that almost knocked him down in the second round.
“Ain’t nothing cool about what happened in the second round,” Mayweather agreed.
Those are the risks you take in boxing, though, and Mayweather knows as well as anyone that it is a hurt business. It can also be a rich business, as evidenced by the paycheck of at least $22.5 million that Mayweather will cash for winning his 41st straight fight.
Not bad for a night’s work. The near capacity crowd at the MGM Grand arena seemed happy with what they saw, and few who spent $60 or $70 to buy the fight on TV could complain they got ripped.
But it wasn’t the fight that boxing fans yearn for. Even worse, the more Mayweather talked after the fight Saturday night, the less likely it seemed that fans will finally get the fight they really want.
Pacman and Money. Will they ever share a ring for real?
“If the fight happens, it happens,” Mayweather said. “I’m not out chasing fighters.”
Fortunately for Mayweather he doesn’t have to chase Pacquiao. Boxing’s most exciting fighter may be thousands of miles away, but he seems as eager to fight as he does to win a seat in congress in next week’s elections.
In a perfect world they meet in November in the sport’s richest fight ever, a showdown that may forever destroy the myth that boxing is dead. The money is so big that it seems like it almost has to happen, and both fighters months ago agreed to what is usually the major stumbling block in negotiations with a deal to split the proceeds evenly.
Unfortunately, boxing is a very imperfect world.
Mayweather, it seems, is not only on a mission to make more money than any other fighter before him, but to clean up the sport along the way. His demand for Olympic-style blood testing derailed the proposed March 13 fight with Pacquiao, and his dominating win over Mosley seemed to do nothing but harden his stance for the Pacquiao fight.
“If Manny Pacquiao can take a blood and urine test then we have a fight,” Mayweather said. “If not, no fight.”
The problem, as anyone who has followed this strange saga knows, isn’t that Pacquiao won’t take blood tests. He will, but not too close to the fight because he believes having his blood taken might somehow weaken him.
It won’t, of course, but that doesn’t mean Pacquiao has something to hide. Boxing is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one, and Pacquiao isn’t about to go into the ring thinking he is at anything but full strength.
“For me, as long as the drug test is not done close to the match, I’ll agree because if they’ll get blood from me close to the match, it will be a disadvantage for me because I’m smaller and he’s big,” Pacquiao told a Manilla radio station after the Mayweather fight.
Pacquiao wants blood testing cut off 24 days before the fight, and his promoter, Bob Arum, didn’t seem in any mood to negotiate, either.
“I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Arum said Sunday. “What I’m concerned about right now is Manny winning the election. If the fight doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. We’re not going to be dictated to.”
If anything, the megafight is even bigger than it was before, thanks to Pacquiao’s win over Joshua Clottey in Dallas and now Mayweather’s dominating win over Mosley. Though Mosley looked from the third round on like he was closer to 48 than 38, Mayweather deserves the credit for breaking him down and turning what could have been a catastrophe into an easy win.
A right hand by Mosley that found its mark early in the second round buckled Mayweather’s knees and he had to grab on to Mosley to stay upright. He was still shaken when he returned to his corner, where he listened to his uncle’s calming words and then turned to his father seated nearby for more reassurance.
Once he was satisfied everything was well, Mayweather took command, hitting Mosley with left hooks and right hands seemingly at will and winning every round the rest of the way on all three ringside scorecards. The normally defensive-minded Mayweather was so eager to put on a show that he jawed with Mosley during the middle rounds, imploring him to stop holding and start brawling.
“I was looking for a knockout but he kept grabbing me,” Mayweather said. “That’s what we were arguing about.”
Watching from the Philippines, Pacquiao took special note of Mayweather’s speed. Quick himself, he said he will need to get even quicker to fight Mayweather.
“If we fight, I’ll need more speed because Mayweather is fast,” he said.
For his part, Mayweather didn’t want to talk much about Pacquiao at all. He’s laid out his terms, and was in no mood to negotiate them publicly after the fight.
Still, he stood and answered questions about almost everything else until finally being pulled away.
There was one more blood test to take before the party began.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org