Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 | 4:06 p.m.
With the Nevada Boxing Commission granting him a one-fight license, boxer Floyd Mayweather will enter the ring for a May 5 title fight in Las Vegas against WBA super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto.
Mayweather announced his opponent for the May bout during a hearing Wednesday before the commission, which debated whether to grant the 34-year-old a license after Mayweather pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in December .
He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with another 90 days on a suspended sentence, plus community service and domestic violence counseling. Mayweather, the undefeated WBO welterweigh champion (42-0 with 26 knockouts) was due to report to jail on Jan. 6 but had his turn-in date delayed until June 1 to allow him to fight in May.
“I’m happy the commission gave me license to fight one fight,” Mayweather said after Wednesday’s hearing. “I’m ready to get back into training camp.”
Much of the nearly hour-long hearing consisted of the commission members peppering Mayweather with questions about his misdemeanor conviction and how he was complying with the court-imposed sentence.
Commission chairman Raymond Avansino said in addition to verifying that competitors are medically fit to box, the board must work to protect the integrity of the sport.
“We have to review (Mayweather’s) character… and whether his actions discredit the sport,” Avansino said. “We have to go through these questions to make sure he meets those standards.”
Avansino said he couldn’t recall a time when the commission granted a license to a fighter facing jail time.
“It’s somewhat unprecedented for us to grant a license prior to the punitive aspect of the sentence being fulfilled,” he said.
After the question session and a round of debate, the commission unanimously granted Mayweather a one-fight license with several conditions, including continuing counseling and community service as outlined in his sentence and avoiding any more arrests between now and the fight. The commission set a May 1 hearing for Mayweather to report back to check up on his compliance.
“I think absolutely the commission was fair,” Mayweather said. “They granted me one fight. I need to conduct myself like a gentleman and do everything that the court ordered and then come back in front of them and show them that I deserve to have a license for a whole year.”
The May 5 fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was scheduled before Mayweather pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor battery charge and no contest to harassment charges. The charges stemmed from a September 2010 altercation with his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris, who is also the mother of his children. According to police reports, Mayweather pulled Harris’ hair, punched her in the head and twisted her arm while she screamed for their children, ranging in age from 7 to almost 11, to call 911.
Mayweather, a seven-time world champion in five weight classes, will move up in weight class to face Cotto (36-2, 29 knockouts), a three-division champion from Puerto Rico, for the WBA super welterweight title. The fight falls on what is shaping up to be a huge day: The Kentucky Derby will be run earlier in the day, which also is Cinco de Mayo.
“I’m going to stand there and box toe to toe, use my defense and do what I do best, and that’s get the victory,” Mayweather said of his strategy for the upcoming fight.
Many had hoped Mayweather would take on Manny Pacquiao, the WBO welterweight champion, in the May fight. Such a mega-bout, which some believe would be the most lucrative in boxing history, has been discussed for several years, but no deal between the two boxers has ever been struck.
Mayweather mostly deflected talk of Pacquiao while speaking after the hearing.
“I presented Pacquiao with the fight… (but) he don’t really want to fight,” Mayweather said. “I gave him a chance to step up to the plate.”
Mayweather’s Twitter feed Wednesday was not as gracious toward Pacquiao, though. “I’m fighting Miguel Cotto on May 5th because Miss Pac Man is ducking me,” Mayweather tweeted to his followers.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.