Floyd Mayweather Jr. is free to fight before he sees his freedom briefly disappear.
The Nevada Athletic Commission on Wednesday unanimously granted Mayweather a conditional one-fight boxing license, clearing the way for him to face WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden.
The license, which was granted on a 5-0 vote, is conditional on Mayweather reporting to jail June 1 to serve his 90-day sentence for domestic battery and staying out of trouble with the law before the fight.
“The commission treated me very fairly,” Mayweather said after the 65-minute hearing.
NAC members questioned his involvement in the domestic violence case with former girlfriend Josie Harris along with his philanthropy and his willingness to comply with a court order that he report to the Clark County Detention Center after the fight.
“I’m just happy the commission gave me my license to fight,” Mayweather said. “Now I can go do what I do best, and that’s put on a great show for the fans against a great opponent.
“Miguel Cotto is a hell of a fighter. He’s a strong, solid, 154-pounder — a tough, very skilled fighter who’s at the top of his game, and I pride myself on fighting the very best.”
Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts) said he will begin training immediately for Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs), whose title will be at stake. The fight is expected to be televised on HBO Pay Per View, with ticket information to be announced at a later date.
Mayweather, who was dressed in a collared shirt and slacks, acted humble before the panel. Still, the NAC had some concerns.
“This commission has not licensed an applicant who has not served his time,” NAC chairman Skip Avansino said to Mayweather. “This is unprecedented, and we want to be certain you will serve that time starting June 1.”
Mayweather said, “Yes, I will.”
Richard Wright, Mayweather’s attorney who helped postpone the fighter reporting to jail from Jan. 6 to June 1, assured the commission there would be no further legal tactics to keep his client from reporting to jail.
The fact Mayweather also had an opponent was key to getting licensed. Without a fight, the commission would have been less likely to see an urgency in issuing Mayweather a license.
Making the fight with Cotto means any dream fight with Manny Pacquiao will have to wait until the fall, at the earliest.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said plans for a June 9 fight at the Grand Garden between Pacquiao, the reigning WBO welterweight champion, and Timothy Bradley, the current WBC junior welterweight champ, are being finalized and an official announcement is expected next week.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.