With Pacquiao victory sealed, Mayweather should fight once more then do what he does best: cash out

John McAuley offers his thoughts on the 'Fight of the Century' and explains why Floyd Mayweather is right to call it quits after one more fight.

Floyd Mayweather is confirmed as the winner of his fight with Manny Pacquiao. Stringer / EPA
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And so it goes on, the countdown to an unblemished career, running in perfect tandem to the termination of this six-fight, US$250 million (Dh918.3m) Showtime contract.

If Manny Pacquiao was supposed to provide Floyd Mayweather Jr his greatest test, and he did briefly with a thunderous left in the fourth round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, then the man formerly known as “Pretty Boy” emerged from the bout as he usually does, his face displaying as few scars and scratches as his record inside the ring.

That record now reads 48 and 0, one shy of Rocky Marciano’s lauded tally with one fight still to come. It was always meant to be this way.

“I’m nearly 40 years old,” Mayweather said in the aftermath of his unanimous points victory against Pacquiao. “I’ve been in this sport a long time, a champion 18 years. It’s time to hang ‘em up.”

It had become a constant refrain in the build-up to the self-styled “Fight of the Century”. At 38, Mayweather is fast approaching the conclusion to what has been one of boxing’s most glittering progressions, from a triumvirate of Golden Gloves titles as an amateur, to the perceived injustice that denied him Olympic gold, to 11-time champion of the world.

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In many respects, Pacquiao was the pinnacle. It may have arrived five years too late, but the Filipino represented Mayweather’s sternest examination. He passed it with convincing assurance.

His style - a supreme counter-puncher, a doyen of defence - might not impress the public as much as the judges, yet few can argue he is an absolute master of his craft.

His time at the top, though, is almost at an end. Mayweather is a shrewd operator inside the ring, outside it, at the negotiating table, and realises that once you have reached the summit there is only one direction to go. He understands the dangers of admiring the view too long, that the decline can be steep and pockmarked with peril.

“I believe in self-preservation,” he said before the Pacquiao fight. “Me first. Me first. Then everyone else. But me first. My mentality has always been the same: line ’em up, and I’ll knock ’em down like bowling pins.”

That does not describe his present punch power – he last knocked out someone four years ago – but it rings true when transposed to the careful execution of his Showtime deal. Five of the six bouts completed with minimum fuss and maximum financial gain, Mayweather has a solitary commitment to fulfil. It is slated for September 12.

The calls will come for a rematch with Pacquiao, but in truth there is little point. As demonstrated in Las Vegas, Pacquiao’s fighting talent has passed its zenith, much more so than Mayweather’s. Pacquiao should be allowed to take refuge in his biggest payday and instead concentrate on the many distractions he enjoys away from boxing. A crack at the office of president of the Philippines seems an obvious next step.

Undeniably, Mayweather remains motivated by money, but having banked an estimated $200m from the richest fight in history, he need not prolong the inevitable. His final fight will most likely constitute a valedictory farewell, although potential opponents will not be in short supply.

Amir Khan, Danny Garcia, another contest with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez? In theory, they are all prospective threats. However, realistically, Mayweather will continue to do what he has done for the majority of an astounding career: duck and dive, pick his foes off at his leisure, transform a probable danger into a procession.

He is right to retire at 49 and 0. Timing has always been his sweet spot in the sweet science. “Money” is cashing out exactly when he should.