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LAS VEGAS - Floyd Mayweather Jr registered a split decision victory over Oscar De La Hoya to claim the World Boxing Council super welterweight title on Saturday before announcing his retirement.
In a fight expected to be one of the highest-grossing in boxing history, Mayweather won a tight verdict from two of the three judges to improve his career record to 38-0 with 24 knockouts.
The 30-year-old American, widely regarded as the world's best fighter pound-for-pound, defended skilfully early on before imposing himself in the later rounds with his powerful right, his speed and several telling combinations.
Mayweather connected with a thumping right and left early in the 12th and final round before a flurry of close-range punches from both fighters ended the bout in front of a capacity crowd of 16 200 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
"I was having fun in there," a jubilant Mayweather told reporters after winning a world title in his fifth weight division. "I could see the shots coming. I stayed on the outside and made him miss. He's the best fighter of our era and I beat him."
Mayweather was favoured by the official ringside statistics, connecting with 207 of 481 punches thrown to 122 of 587 for De La Hoya. He also landed 138 power punches compared to De La Hoya's 82.
"Now I am going to retire," added Mayweather, who climbed into the ring at the start of the fight wearing a Mexican sombrero, a cheeky reference to his opponent's heritage on Cinco de Mayo.
"I don't have anything else left to prove. I want to spend more time with my children."
Fan favourite De La Hoya, arguably the biggest name in boxing despite being in the twilight of his career, was the aggressor for most of the fight, earning as many cheers as Mayweather received boos.
He started impressively by pinning Mayweather against the ropes and frequently connecting with his trademark left hook.
However, the 34-year-old Mexican-American found it increasingly difficult to penetrate Mayweather's renowned defence and his close-range jabs became more ineffective.
"I felt I won," De La Hoya said after one of the judges gave him the fight by 115 points to 113. Mayweather gained the other two verdicts 116-112 and 115-113. - Reuters