Floyd Mayweather vanquishes Manny Pacquiao, so what’s left for him in boxing?

It took nearly six years to get them in the ring together, and Floyd Mayweather took out Manny Pacquiao in almost the exact same fashion as he had 47 past opponents as he remained undefeated in a bout many were calling the Fight of the Century.

In the lead-up to the fight, Pacquiao was touted as the offensive machine that finally could put it on Mayweather in a way that nobody else ever had done. While you probably could count on one hand the amount of hard punches Mayweather has taken during his entire career, Pacquiao was supposed to be the answer to his dazzling defense.

After 12 rounds, it was clear he wasn’t.

Despite an aggressive output for a good portion of the fight, Pacquiao just couldn’t find any kind of rhythm for his punches because Mayweather was stunning with his defense throughout almost every round. Mayweather also established a good left jab followed by a counter right hand that blasted Pacquiao several times, which ended up being the most effective punches all night.

When it was over, Mayweather won a shutout on the scorecards with the judges unanimously returning nods in his favor.

Social media exploded after the fight was over with patrons upset at the slow-paced, tactical battle that Mayweather engaged in with Pacquiao, but what did people expect?

A perfect Mayweather win was going to look almost exactly like what happened over 12 rounds with Pacquiao. Mayweather is a defensive master, and he’s so good at making opponents miss. Pacquiao managed to land only 81 of 429 punches, which is not only a miserable percentage for accuracy but also far lower in his total output — which usually reaches nearly 700 per fight.

Pacquiao later said he’d been limited by a shoulder injury.

Neither fighter had a blemish on him when the fight was over and that speaks to the brilliance of Mayweather’s technical performance. Mayweather never was going to set the world on fire with his punching power or offensive onslaught against Pacquiao.

He did what he does to every opponent. It really shouldn’t be a surprise.

"I knew he was going to push it, I knew he was going to win some rounds. He had moments in the fight, but I kept him on the outside. I was a smart fighter. I outboxed him," Mayweather said after the win. "I wasn’t getting hit with a lot of shots until I sat right there in the pocket, that’s when he would land a lot of shots.

"We did what we had to do tonight."

The win moves Mayweather to 48-0, just one victory away from tying Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record when he retired from the sport. While the temptation is there for Mayweather to break the record, he says he’s fighting once more and then done.

Mayweather, who signed a six-fight contract with Showtime in 2013, has a final bout left on his deal, which he insists will happen in September and then that’s the end of his career.

"I’ve got one more fight with Showtime and CBS, you guys have done a remarkable job. My last fight is in September, then it’s time for me to hang it up," Mayweather said. "I’m almost 40 years old now, I’ve been in the sport 19 years, I’ve been a world champion 18 years and I’m truly, truly thankful and I’m blessed."

If Mayweather is serious about lacing up the gloves again as early as September, the options for an opponent appear to be somewhat limited.  Then again, after what it took to finally get the fight with Pacquiao together, anything is going to be a letdown.

Chances are Mayweather and Pacquiao won’t rematch, so forget about that right away. It was a monumental task to get them in the ring together the first time, so it’s unlikely all the parties involved would find a way to work together again to make a second fight so quickly.

MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO CENTRAL

The most-likely candidates are either Amir Khan or Keith Thurman Jr., although Mayweather would be a massive favorite in either fight.

Khan already was a rumored opponent for Mayweather on a couple of occasions before Mayweather moved into a pair of bouts against Marcos Maidana. Khan has a fight coming up against Chris Algieri in May that he would have to win before cashing in on a potential matchup with Mayweather.

Thurman is fresh off a 12-round drubbing of Robert Guerrero, whom Mayweather also pasted, but doesn’t have nearly the name value of Khan in boxing circles.

It’s going to be wait and see for Mayweather because he just went 12 rounds with Pacquiao and might change his mind about that September date once he wakes up on Sunday morning. Then again, Mayweather might want to take advantage of a quick turnaround and pick up one final, massive payday in September before hanging up the gloves for good.

In all actuality, Mayweather doesn’t need to fight again because it’s never going to get bigger or better than the Pacquiao bout on Saturday night. Maybe he really wants to honor his deal and go out with one final fight to celebrate his career in style. No matter what happens in his next fight, Mayweather won’t be competing for titles any longer.

The 38-year-old said at the post-fight press conference that he will relinquish all of his titles — maybe as early as Monday. He holds the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine championships as well as the WBO belt he won on Saturday. 

Whatever else happens, Mayweather settled the debate about who is the best pound-for-pound boxer of this generation while quietly slipping into the conversation as one of the top 10 fighters of all time. He’ll likely never crack the top five no matter what he does with another fight, but it’s still an amazing accomplishment and one Mayweather should absolutely celebrate.