LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. made the only choice he could since being unable to land a fight with Manny Pacquiao, announcing at a Nevada Athletic Commission licensing hearing Wednesday that he would fight World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are widely considered the world’s top two fighters and have been negotiating to fight each other on and off since late 2009.
But given an impasse in talks, and with Pacquiao moving toward a June 9 bout in Las Vegas against World Boxing Organization super lightweight champion Timothy Bradley, Mayweather chose to face Cotto. There weren’t a lot of credible options, and Cotto represents likely the sternest he could have faced other than Pacquiao.
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Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he was disappointed not to be fighting Manny Pacquiao.
The Nevada commission last month ordered Mayweather to appear before it after he requested a boxing license because of a guilty plea Dec. 21 to a domestic violence charge. The commission approved Mayweather’s request by a 5-0 margin, granting him a conditional license. Among the conditions are that he agree to report to the Clark County Detention Center to serve his 90-day jail sentence June 1 without attempting to delay it, that he completes his community service and that he remains out of trouble.
The commission will check on Mayweather’s progress toward completing the community service May 1.
After the hour-long meeting, Mayweather said he was excited to fight again.
“I think Miguel Cotto is a hell of a fighter,” a somber-appearing Mayweather said following the hearing. “He’s a strong, solid 154-pounder. Pacquiao was trying to fight him at 147, but you know me. I don’t never want to put a guy in a position where he’s not comfortable. I want to beat a guy when he’s at his best. If he’s his best at 154, and he’s strong and he’s solid, that’s the weight we’re fighting at.”
Cotto, 37-2 with 30 knockouts, was stopped by Pacquiao in the 12th round of a Nov. 14, 2009, fight. Cotto is coming off an impressive 10th round technical knockout of Antonio Margarito on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Mayweather, 42-0, had considered bouts against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Robert Guerrero and Erik Morales, among others. For a variety of reasons – inexperience, size and age – none were would result in a high-end pay-per-view show.
At the hearing, Mayweather was grilled about his guilty plea and said he made it in order to prevent his children from having to testify. He was asked extensively about counseling and whether his training would interrupt it. He said it would not.
Mayweather said he was disappointed not to be fighting Pacquiao but said he made every effort to get the fight made.
“I presented Pacquiao with the fight, and all I got to say is, Pacquiao’s blowing a bunch of smoke up everyone’s ass,” Mayweather said. “He don’t really want to fight. I gave him a chance to step up to the plate. We’re talking about a $10 million fighter who I tried to give $40 million to. We didn’t even talk about the back end.
“Everything everybody is hearing is just a bunch of lies. I’ve got the proof. The proof is in the pudding and I’ve got the proof from all my meetings with [Pacquiao adviser] Michael Koncz. Floyd Mayweather has proof. When it’s all said and done, like I said before, I’m honest and a stand-up type guy.”
Top Rank has yet to announce that Pacquiao will fight Bradley, but the other finalists on promoter Bob Arum’s lists are committed. Cotto took the fight against Mayweather and Arum plans to match Juan Manuel Marquez and Lamont Peterson at Cowboys Stadium in the summer.
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach told Yahoo! Sports, “It looks like Bradley is going to be the guy.”