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Next up for Floyd Mayweather is jail, not Manny Pacquiao

Frederic j. brown/AFP/Getty Images

In one of his toughest fights, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (above) had to rally to beat Miguel Cotto.

LAS VEGAS - Floyd Mayweather Jr. was getting ready to make his ring walk about the time Manny Pacquiao arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. Mayweather will be occupying a cell at the Clark County Detention Center by the time Pacquiao makes his way to this gambling city for his June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley.

The two are seemingly destined never to be in the same spot at the same time. Certainly not in the ring, something Mayweather made clear Saturday night after beating Miguel Cotto in a bruising fight that, if not his best, was certainly among his most exciting.

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“The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is not going to happen,’’ Mayweather said. “It’s not my fault.’’

Mayweather believes he’s in the driver’s seat for any mega-fight, and is both suspicious of Pacquiao and unwilling to take equal money for the bout.

After making a minimum $32 million in an impressive performance Saturday night against Cotto, Mayweather could be excused for dismissing what would be the richest fight in boxing history. But, with jail time coming June 1 for a domestic abuse charge, there will be plenty of time for reflection.

“I don’t know where we’re going to go from here because we basically have fought everybody in this sport,’’ Mayweather said. “I don’t have to fight if I don’t want to.’’

Indeed, Mayweather hinted of retirement following his tough battle with Cotto, which ended with Mayweather claiming a piece of the 154-pound title with a unanimous decision. But there’s huge money still to be made, and he’s a fighter who burns through cash with a Money Team entourage that seems to grow with each fight.

Unlike most of his fights, though, Mayweather looked like he had been in a fight after beating Cotto. He had welts under both eyes and he spoke deliberately, like a fighter who was exhausted by the effort needed to capture the 43d win of his unblemished career.

He could have danced about and beaten Cotto without taking the most punishment of his career, Mayweather insisted. But he wanted to give fans a good show, and make them happy they spent $69.95 on pay-per-view to see him fight.

“Things happened tonight and we both had to fight. But the main thing is that we got the victory,’’ Mayweather said. “The fans were happy. It’s about impressing fans and giving them what they want to see.’’

Both fighters paid a price for this brawl, with Cotto going to a local hospital for examination instead of attending the post-fight news conference.

They traded punches for 12 rounds without taking a second off, and the sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand arena stood and cheered most of the way. Mayweather was the sharper and cleaner puncher, but Cotto had his moments, too, landing some big shots to Mayweather’s head and body.

Though Mayweather ended up winning easily on all three ringside scorecards, the fight was in doubt in the middle rounds and he never really dominated until he caught Cotto with an uppercut that buckled his knees in the final round.

“You’re a hell of a champion,’’ Mayweather told Cotto. “You’re the toughest guy I ever fought.’’

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