Floyd Mayweather beat Andre Berto on points in Las Vegas on Saturday night and then said: “My career is over.”
The 38-year-old American won his 49th professional fight 120-108, 118-110 and 117-111 to remain undefeated, equalling Rocky Marciano’s record.
Mayweather finished his career on his knees, kneeling in the middle of the ring, as in prayer, after the final bell.
He then thanked God and gave credit to Berto, who had tried his best to do what no one else had done before.
There were no knockdowns in the bout for Mayweather’s WBA and WBC welterweight titles, and too many clinches and too much use of the elbows to make it a great fight but the champion finished the job in style, celebrating victory well before the end of the last round.
Berto, whose record dropped to 30-4, including 26 wins inside the distance, showed his hand speed in the first few seconds of the fight and soon realised how difficult it was to lay a glove on the best defender in boxing.
Referee Kenny Bayless also got into the action straight away to separate the two as they got tied up in clinches.
Berto kept moving forward but the 38-year-old champion displayed his remarkable footwork and body and head movement to make the 32-year-old challenger miss.
Mayweather scored with some lefts to Berto’s body and landed a solid right to the head in the fourth but there was not much daylight between the two after the first few rounds.
The aggressive Berto kept up the pressure but Mayweather, having beaten the best welterweight champions of his era, drew on his years of experience to open up a lead before the championship rounds began.
The two exchanged some strong words after rounds and Bayless had to step in between them after the tenth.
Mayweather was confident enough to do some showboating towards the end of the 11th round as Berto kept looking for one pay-off punch, which he never found.
AFP reports that Mayweather said: “You have to know when it’s time to hang it up. I’m knocking at the door; I’m nearly 40 years old. I’m leaving the sport with all my faculties; I’m still sharp and smart.
“I want to thank all the fans… For 19 years I would not be able to do it without these fans.”
Mayweather was given a hero’s welcome at the MGM Grand Garden Arena by a boisterous crowd who had come expecting to see him give Berto an old-fashioned shellacking.
He did not quite do that, but used his sublime defensive skills to avoid the worst that Berto, a former two-time “world” champion, could throw at him.
Mayweather landed quick-fire combinations and then darted out of trouble, to roars of approval for the man fans have come to know as “Money” Mayweather, who has also called himself The Best Ever.