Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. said Wednesday he will fight Miguel Cotto on May 5 in a Cinco de Mayo matchup in Las Vegas.
Mayweather made the announcement after getting a conditional one-fight license and a lecture from Nevada athletic commissioners, who told the fighter, his manager-promoter and his lawyer they want a prefight report May 1 to ensure Mayweather abides by conditions set by a Nevada judge in a criminal domestic violence case that that will have him begin serving 90 days in jail June 1.
Commission Chairman Raymond “Skip” Avansino Jr. said it would be a “tragedy” if Mayweather didn’t meet the requirements to make the multimillion-dollar bout May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“But we think Mr. Mayweather is certainly going to comply with this,” Avansino said.
The commission unanimously granted the one-fight license, after Commissioner Pat Lundvall told Mayweather he can’t postpone or delay serving his jail sentence and must stay out of trouble for the 14-plus weeks he’s training to take on Cotto.
“I’m just happy to be fighting May 5,” Mayweather said as he emerged from the hearing room. “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 undefeated Mayweather, a seven-time world champion in five weight classes, will turn 35 this month. He’ll step up in weight to fight Cotto, 31, a three-division champion from Puerto Rico. The bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will be for the WBA super welterweight belt.
“He’s the best at 154,” Mayweather said of Cotto.
Mayweather dismissed failed attempts to book the May 5 fight with Manny Pacquiao, a Philippine champion against whom Mayweather is usually measured.
“He really doesn’t want to fight,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are boxing’s top two stars, and they have taunted each other for more than two years — including recent postings on Twitter. They also have a defamation lawsuit pending in federal court in Las Vegas stemming from Mayweather accusations that Pacquiao took performance enhancing drugs.
Both say they’re eager to fight, but no deal has been reached for what many believe would be the most lucrative bout in boxing history.
Mayweather defeated Victor Ortiz for the WBC welterweight title in September, to go to 42-0 with 26 knockouts.
Cotto is 36-2 with 29 knockouts. He is coming off of the second defense of his title, a 10th-round technical knockout win over Antonio Margarito in December.
In a joint statement announcing the fight, Cotto said he intends to be the first boxer to beat Mayweather.
“I am here to fight the biggest names in boxing,” Cotto said. “I’ve never ducked anyone or any challenge in front of me.”
Both fighters have agreed to Olympic-style drug testing for the 12-round fight handled by Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions.
The May 5 fight date was set before Mayweather pleaded guilty Dec. 21 in Nevada state court to a reduced battery domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges. The plea stemmed from a hair-pulling, punching and arm-twisting argument in October 2010 with Josie Harris, the mother of three of Mayweather’s children. Prosecutors dropped felony and misdemeanor charges that could have gotten Mayweather 34 years in prison.
With credit for three days already served, Mayweather faces 87 days in jail but likely will serve about 60 days.