- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. made it look easy.
"Money" might not be the best fighter of all time, as he likes to proclaim, but when the time came to make a welterweight statement against Shane Mosley, he did it.
Despite a rough first two rounds, they were but a distant memory by the time the final bell rang and Mayweather had claimed a lopsided decision victory in the year's biggest fight so far in front of 15,117 fans on Saturday night at the star-studded MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Mayweather had won six world titles in five divisions from junior lightweight to junior middleweight and beaten several prime opponents, but all in the smaller weight classes.
At welterweight, where he has campaigned since late 2005, Mayweather was heavily -- and rightly -- criticized for hand-picking smaller and non-elite opponents despite a division that boasted such top foes as Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams and, of course, Manny Pacquiao.
Can't say that anymore.
Finally, Mayweather took on Mosley (46-6, 39 KOs), the de facto champion of the division, and toyed with him.
"I came here to give the fans what they wanted to see, a toe-to-toe battle," Mayweather said. "That's how I wanted to fight and what I wanted to give the fans. It wasn't the same style for me but I wanted to be aggressive and I knew I could do it. This is a fight the fans asked for a long time, and they deserve it."
Mosley's alphabet 147-pound belt was not on the line -- Mayweather did not want to pay a sanction fee or accept the belt, which he said would only collect dust -- but it hardly mattered.
This was a big fight.
A really big fight.
The crowd was filled with movie and music stars -- Mariah Carey, Jay Leno, Usher, Jay-Z and Will Smith, to name a few, as well as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Boxing royalty also turned out -- Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and others.
It was that kind of night for the sport.
And it was that kind of night for Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs), who closed as a 4-1 favorite and backed it up every bit.
Judges Adalaide Byrd and Dave Moretti each scored it 119-109 for Mayweather while judge Robert Hoyle had it 118-110. ESPN.com also had it for Mayweather, 117-110.
Mosley, 38 and fighting for the first time in 16 months, sure looked his age, unable to get off shots consistently.
But he did give us a glimpse, at long last, of what would happen if Mayweather was presented with significant adversity.
We learned he can handle it like a champ.
Those drama-filled moments came early in the fight, when Mosley looked good. His best chance to end Mayweather's undefeated run came and went in the second round when Mayweather, 33, survived perhaps the roughest spot of his professional career.
Mosley landed a tremendous right hand that shook Mayweather to his boots. He was grabbing on to keep from going down, and Mosley kept firing.
He landed at least two more big right hands and had Mayweather in huge trouble.
But Mosley couldn't capitalize on his moment.
It was gone like that.
"I caught him with my big right hand and I tried to move around, but by that time he was too quick and I was too tight," said Mosley, who earned $6.75 million plus a percentage of the pay-per-view, which many expect to be in the 1.5 million to 2 million-plus ballpark. "After the right hand, I thought I need to knock him out and I need to do it sooner than later. I couldn't adjust and he did."
Mayweather downplayed the drama.
"It's a contact sport and you're gonna get hit," said Mayweather, who was guaranteed $22.5 million plus a cut of the pay-per-view profits. "What you gotta do it suck it up and keep on fighting. That's what I did when I got hit with that shot."
He adjusted beautifully. He came out for the third round and rolled while Mosley, a three-division champion, could do little to combat his speed or penetrate his tight defense.
Mayweather also began landing his right hand. And landing it. And landing it.
He was landing it nearly at will against a Mosley who was looking every bit his age.
"I still feel really good but my neck was really tight -- I think it was the long layoff that hurt me," said Mosley, who hadn't fought since knocking out Margarito in the ninth round in an upset in January 2009. "I am happy I got this fight and he gave me the opportunity, but now I am going to go home, look at the tapes and see what went wrong. Take it slow and go from there."
At one point in the eighth round, Mayweather was talking to Mosley and taunting him because it was so easy for him to land. In the ninth, it was a right uppercut that caught Mosley's attention.
"I went over the plan with my dad [Floyd Mayweather Sr.] and uncle [and trainer] Roger [Mayweather] when we were sitting around the house," Mayweather said. "They watched the tapes of Shane and said to box and lay on the attack. I think I could have attacked earlier and then we would have gotten the knockout."
Now the attention will turn to making the fight the world has wanted to see, Mayweather against Pacquiao.
Although the pound-for-pound mantle still belongs to Pacquiao until proven otherwise, that is by far the biggest fight in boxing.
Mayweather was only fighting Mosley because talks to fight Pacquiao fell apart in January over the kind of drug testing they would employ. Pacquiao wouldn't agree to Mayweather's insistence on strict testing. Mosley did agree on the testing, which was overseen by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
If a fight with Pacquiao is to happen, Mayweather said it will be because the Filipino idol accepts his drug testing terms.
"If he wants to fight it's not that hard to find me," Mayweather said. "We tried to fight before and it didn't work, and we moved on. Mosley did what I asked him to do and if every athlete in the sport would do that, we know we would have a clean sport. Everyone should take the test. I am willing to take the tests.
"If Manny takes the test we can make the fight happen. If he doesn't we don't have a fight.
"I'm going to continue to fight the best. Shane Mosley is a helluva a fighter and I am going to keep on fighting the best."
That means fighting Pacquiao.
Let's hope it happens.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
By dominating a rugged customer in Sugar Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather put his money where his mouth is and silenced his critics.