Champ stays on defense

With a straight face, Floyd Mayweather Jr. says he is "officially retired" from boxing. And no one is taking him seriously.

Mayweather is a great defensive fighter, a talent he again displayed Saturday night in winning a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand Garden.

Mayweather claimed the WBC super welterweight title and vowed he will not return to the ring to defend it. He’s only 30 years old and apparently thinks his listening audience was born yesterday.

The list of fighters who have come back from brief retirements is too long to count. The unbeaten Mayweather said to count him as an exception.

"I told you guys this is my last fight, and as of right now, I’m sticking by my word," he said in the post-fight news conference. "I don’t know what the future holds for Floyd Mayweather."

It could hold a rematch with the 34-year-old De La Hoya, who said he will return to his home in Puerto Rico and consider his options. The "Golden Boy" didn’t sound ready to retire.

De La Hoya made a guaranteed $25 million in an event hyped as the biggest in boxing history. His Golden Boy Promotions co-promoted the fight, so when all receipts are counted, he could haul in more than $40 million.

Mayweather was guaranteed $10 million but figures to collect more through his percentage of the pay-per-view sales.

With dollars like that on the table, common sense says Mayweather and De La Hoya might meet again, even if their first confrontation fell far short of being a classic.

"Every fight isn’t going to be the best fight in the world, but we gave the fans a hell of a fight," Mayweather said. "I’m not here to talk about a rematch.

"This guy is a 10-time world champion, and I beat him like I beat him, but it’s still not good enough. It’s never good enough. That’s why I’m leaving the sport."

Mayweather plans to travel to Los Angeles today for an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." He surely will be asked about a rematch.

When asked about the split decision that went against him, De La Hoya said he deserved more credit for being the aggressor. But Mayweather won by being the stronger closer.

"I knew Oscar was fading and Floyd was picking it up," Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s business adviser, said. "I really want to give Oscar a lot of credit. He really surprised me with how hard he fought."

Judges Jerry Roth and Chuck Giampa, who scored the bout in favor of Mayweather, had "Pretty Boy" winning four of the final five rounds.

Mayweather threw fewer punches but connected on more. He landed 207 of 481 punches, and De La Hoya threw 587 and landed 122. Mayweather also had a 138-82 advantage in power punches landed.

"After a fight, you feel like a loser or you feel like a winner. I didn’t feel like I lost," De La Hoya said. "I was very satisfied with what I did. My job was to press the action and go in there and fight. I commend Mayweather; he did what he had to do, and obviously you have to respect the judges."

De La Hoya’s tactical mistake, he said, was going away from his jab after using it to control three of the first four rounds.

"My jab, for some reason, it just didn’t come out," he said. "That’s a punch that failed me."

Still, when the decision went to the scorecards, De La Hoya’s trainer, Freddie Roach, believed his fighter might take it.

"In the close rounds, I thought we might get the edge because we were making this fight happen," Roach said.

The potential for controversy surfaced about 45 minutes after the fight, when Golden Boy Promotions chief executive officer Richard Schaefer claimed discrepancy was on the scorecards and the decision might be reversed. Schaefer later rested his case.

Mayweather (38-0, 24 knockouts) for the first time in his career did not win by knockout or unanimous decision. He also had swelling around both of his eyes.

"I’m not Superman. I can’t win every fight by unanimous (decision)," Mayweather said. "I thought I beat him by a bigger margin. But he’s tough, and he can take good shots. He hit me with a couple good shots, and that comes with the territory."

His victory was not convincing only because he never staggered De La Hoya (38-5).

"He threw a right hand that set me back," De La Hoya said. "No, he didn’t hurt me."

De La Hoya said he thought fans left "extremely happy" with the quality of the fight, and added Mayweather has a "big responsibility" to keep the title.

Mayweather, who ripped De La Hoya repeatedly before the fight, was mostly complimentary of his rival.

"I’ve got nothing bad to say about the guy," Mayweather said. "He’s a good fighter. I take nothing away from him."

But he did take De La Hoya’s title and promised, "I’m going out on top."

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