LAS VEGAS -- Perhaps someday a fighter will figure out how to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. The mostly partisan, celebrity-studded crowd Saturday night at a packed MGM Grand Garden Arena really wanted it to be Shane Mosley.
Mosley, like so many others, tried to beat the fastest, slickest fighter on the planet by out-boxing him. Like other challengers before him, Mosley found that tactic simply won't work against a fighter whose remarkable hand speed, quickness and overall ring bravado doesn't allow for anything other than a legitimate knockout punch to defeat him.
Mayweather wants us to love him, but his game -- keeping it defensive for 12 rounds and punching only when necessary -- leaves us disappointed every time. A Mayweather pay-per-view show is about buildup and letdown, every time.
The 33-year-old six-time champion won a unanimous 12-round decision at 147 pounds over Mosley, speaking glowingly of the boxer who called him out for years. It was gratingly familiar, like so many other Mayweather decisions.
He is now 41-0, with 25 knockouts, the last coming in 2007 when he scored a 10th-round TKO over Ricky Hatton, who clearly didn't belong in the ring that night.
Photos: View Fight Action | Celebrity Sightings
The world wanted Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The now infamous dispute over Olympic-style drug testing, something the Nevada Athletic Commission doesn't sanction, torpedoed that mega-fight.
So that leaves us with Pacquiao, still regarded as boxing's pound-for-pound king, thousands of miles away from Las Vegas, running for Congress in his home province of Sarangani in the southern Philippines and readying himself for the May 10 elections.
And boxing fans instead got Mayweather versus a slightly worn-out but game Mosley (46-6, 39 KOs), who brought the experience, class and stoicism of a 38-year-old athlete along with the confidence that a WBA welterweight title can give you in situations like this.
Unfortunately, Mosley was out-punched -- 208 of Mayweather's blows connected, while Mosley landed just 92. He was overmatched. At least he kept his title, if only because Mayweather wasn't interested in paying the sanctioning fee to make this a championship bout.
After a heck of a tease in the second round, when Mosley threw head-shattering right hands that actually won him the round on all three judges' scorecards, a promising opportunity to dethrone the cocky but brilliant Mayweather was squandered.
At least "Money" had to box more than usual this time.
"That's not my style," Mayweather said as the crowd quietly filed out of the arena, clearly more interested in hitting the bar, the tables or the cab stand. "But I wanted to give them that kind of fight; I wanted to do it and I was happy to do it.
"I went over the game plan with my dad (Floyd Sr.) and my Uncle Roger when we were over at the house. They told me to box and then lay out the attack."
That stunning second round was the night's only drama. "Sugar" Shane scored with a combination that staggered Mayweather midway through, a furious beatdown in the center of the ring that caused the crowd to erupt in support.
A straight right by Mosley connected. Mayweather countered with a left that missed, and Mosley snuck in another right hand that did damage.
After five clinches in that telltale second round, an effective weapon against Mayweather finally emerged: Mosley's powerful right-hand shots.
"I caught him with a big right hand and I tried to move around, but he was too quick and I was too tight," said Mosley, who complained of rust and a stiff neck after not fighting in 16 months.
He wanted to finish it right there in the second, with Mayweather in a moment of rare weakness, but Mosley admitted he couldn't adjust.
"After I landed the right hand, I wanted to knock him out," Mosley said. "But I needed to do it sooner than later."
Too late, Shane.
Mayweather vs. Mosley Photos
"I'm happy we finally had a chance to fight, because this is a fight the fans have been looking forward to for a long time, and they deserve it."
Naturally, the talk immediately turned to Pacquiao, who reportedly was providing round-by-round analysis of the bout for television in Manila. Pacquiao is balking at the blood-testing for steroids that Mayweather demands and the state of Nevada says is unnecessary.
"If he wants to fight, it's not hard to find me. We tried to make it work out a few months ago and we moved on," Mayweather bellowed -- again. "If Manny takes the test, we can make the fight happen. If he doesn't we don't have a fight."
Saturday night, we almost got a fight. Mosley went all in, loading up on the right hand. It simply cost him late.
When the seventh round opened with a Mosley clinch at the ropes -- and a warning from referee Kenny Bayless to not throw clinching shots -- the fighters engaged in some center-of-the-ring jawing. It ended with Mayweather throwing a quick left jab and a hard right, abruptly ending the conversation.
At one point in the seventh, Mayweather looked at the ringside judges, laughed and then winked while Mosley -- clearly tiring, his mouth open -- clinched him and tried to work the body.
And so Mayweather-Mosley became another Mayweather-controlled victory. His drug-testing mandate to Pacquiao continues to dictate the direction of boxing, and it keeps the fight everyone wants to see from ever happening.
"I want boxing to be a clean sport," Mayweather has said.
That strategy will only serve to keep Mayweather's unblemished record clean. And not much else.