In what he described as one of his toughest fights - three weeks before he heads to jail - Floyd Mayweather held off a game Miguel Cotto and came away with Cotto's WBA light middleweight title in an exciting action fight that had the raucous crowd of 16,047 standing throughout much of the fight Saturday night at the MGM Grand . The decision drew jeers from the pro-Cotto crowd.For several rounds, the fighters fought toe-to-toe - unusual for Mayweather, who's known for his speed and ability to slip punches and counterpunch - exchanging hard blows. Cotto kept up the pressure throughout the fight, often trapping Mayweather in the corner and teeing off, and bloodied Mayweather's nose early. It bled for much of the fight. "I could've just outboxed him and moved, and made it a boring fight. But it's a recession," Mayweather said. "You guys spent your hard-earned dollars to come see me, so I said, (expletive), let me give you guys what you want to see."The three judges at ringside scored the fight unanimously for Mayweather, 117-111 twice and 118-110. Their scores were not indicative of how close and how action-packed the fight really was.As Mayweather talked after the fight to HBO 's Larry Merchant - Mayweather apologized on Friday to Merchant for saying the 80-year-old boxing analyst should be fired after his September fight with Victor Ortiz , which was followed by Merchant's infamous line, "If I were 50 years younger, I'd kick your ass." - the crowd let the undefeated, 35-year-old fighter know how they felt about the decision.Yet, CompuBox's punch stats skewed heavily in Mayweather's favor. Despite Cotto's constant pressure, Mayweather outworked the Puerto Rican star, landing 179 of 687 punches (26%), while Cotto connected on 105 of 506 (21%)."You're a hell of a champion, the toughest guy I ever fought," Mayweather, who earned a record $32 million guaranteed, said to Cotto afterwards. "I had to fight hard, suck it up. He's no pushover." "When fights are on pay-per-view, you want to give the fans what they pay for and that's excitement."By the end of the night, Cotto had the crowd on its feet, sensing a possible upset over Mayweather. But it was not to be as the new WBA champion improved to 43-0 with 26 KOs. Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico , left right after the fight but talked to HBO off camera."The judges said I lost the fight. I can't do anything else. I have to take my defeat," he said. "I brought my best and I did my best every morning in training camp and I did my best tonight."Cotto said he was happy with his performance. "(Mayweather) knows what kind of fight Miguel Cotto brings and so do the fans. I can't ask for anything more."Mayweather, who landed 128 power punches to Cotto's 75, called Cotto a "future Hall of Famer. He didn't come here to survive," he said. "He came here to fight. I dug down and fought him back. In life there's obstacles. I take the good with the good and the bad with the bad."Part of the bad with the bad is that Mayweather will report to jail on June 1 in Las Vegas to serve an 87-day sentence for misdemeanor domestic battery. He talked about Manny Pacquiao afterwards, the man much of the world wants to see fight Mayweather next."I tried to make the Pacquiao fight this time and that didn't happen, so I fought Cotto instead," he said. "I want to fight Pacquiao, but he needs to take the test and then I'll fight him. Cotto took the test. Pacquiao can do the same."Cotto earned $8 million for the fight, but likely will make a good deal more, as will Mayweather, off the pay-per-view buys. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he thought the PPV buys might be the second-most in boxing history. Mayweather holds the record of 2.4 million buys for his 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya , the president of Golden Boy and promoter of this fight.