Judge delays Mayweather’s jail time so he can fight

Even a startling decision by a Las Vegas judge Friday to permit Floyd Mayweather Jr. to put off his jail sentence until June won’t help set the stage for a long-awaited showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

Less than an hour after Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa postponed Mayweather’s jail sentence on domestic violence charges until June 1 so that the star boxer could fight on May 5, Mayweather manager Leonard Ellerbe said an opponent would be announced next week.

Given that Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum on Friday listed a slew of reasons why a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight could not occur on May 5, there is no way that the announcement everyone wants to hear will be forthcoming.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. leaves after his sentencing on Dec. 21, 2011.
(AP)

Ellerbe declined to discuss any potential opponents. Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, said simply “Yes,” when asked if 21-year-old star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is a possibility.

Golden Boy promotes Alvarez, the 21-year-old World Boxing Council super welterweight champion, and has promoted Mayweather’s last five bouts. Alvarez, who is 39-0-1, is hugely popular among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, and has been pining for a bout with Mayweather for several years. He talked of meeting Mayweather, who is 42-0, when he was only a teenager.

“Canelo very much wants the fight, I can promise you that,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer would not say whether any other opponents are being considered, but given that May 5 is Cinco de Mayo weekend, it’s a good bet that it will be Alvarez who will face Mayweather in a pay-per-view showdown from the MGM Grand.

That there will even be a Mayweather fight in the spring is a stunner of epic proportions. Mayweather attorney Richard Wright argued to Saragosa on Friday that a May 5 bout involving Mayweather would mean $100 million to the struggling Las Vegas economy.

Though the fact that Mayweather had planned to fight on May 5 was highly publicized before his Dec. 21 sentencing, Saragosa still sentenced him to six months in jail, with three months suspended, for a guilty plea on charges of domestic violence against Josie Harris, the mother of his children.

On Friday, the day he was supposed to report to the Clark County Detention Center, Saragosa changed gears and agreed to allow Mayweather to remain free until June 1 so he could fight on May 5.

Ellerbe declined to state Mayweather’s reaction, saying, “I haven’t had a real conversation with him about this yet,” but he did dictate a statement.

“We are pleased the judge granted postponement of Floyd’s surrender date so he can fulfill his commitment to Las Vegas to deliver his promised megafight and the economic benefit it provides to the community,” Ellerbe said.

News of the judge’s ruling instantly prompted speculation that a fight with Pacquiao could be made for that date. Mayweather and Pacquiao sit 1-2 in the current Yahoo! Sports rankings and are by far the two biggest draws in the sport.

Arum is planning to travel to the Philippines on Sunday to discuss Pacquiao’s next fight. He had been listing Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley and Lamont Peterson as the options.

Mayweather departs from his lawyer's office on Jan. 6, 2012.
(AP)

Arum didn’t sound like he was interested in opening talks with Mayweather’s representatives, though he said, “Manny is a sharp guy and I’m sure he’ll be fully up to speed on what went on with Floyd by the time I get there.”

Among the pitfalls to making a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight for May 5 that Arum listed were problems for Mayweather earning a license from the Nevada Athletic Commission. However, if a judge allowed Mayweather to delay his jail sentence to fight, it is highly unlikely the five members of the athletic commission, who are appointed by the governor, would deny him a license. Two more likely hang-ups would be if the cut Pacquiao suffered in his Nov. 12 win over Marquez would be healed and the wisdom of fighting in a 16,000-seat arena.

“We’ll be leaving millions upon millions of dollars on the table if we did that,” Arum said of holding the potential megafight at MGM Grand instead of a much larger venue.

Arum said that Las Vegas casino magnates Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson have been discussing construction of a 40,000-seat temporary arena on Las Vegas Blvd. on the site of the old Frontier Hotel that could have served as a venue for Mayweather-Pacquiao. But Arum said Friday the plan is not far enough along for it to be built in time for what could be the richest bout in history.

Schaefer said it was his hope to have made a fight with Pacquiao, but he said he began to look in other directions when he became convinced Arum wasn’t interested.

“If you talk to 20 boxing experts, all 20 will tell you that Floyd Mayweather Jr. would beat Manny Pacquiao and would probably do it easily,” Schaefer said. “If you are Bob, why risk Pacquiao in that fight? I don’t blame him, honestly, when he has other options and he controls both sides and he controls the promotion. I don’t blame him for that.

“We were looking for the biggest fight possible and that would have been Mayweather versus Pacquiao. But Bob made it clear after the Marquez fight that Manny wouldn’t be available in May and retired federal judge Daniel Weinstein [who has arbitrated disputes between the sides] told us that, contrary to what Bob has been saying in the media, that Top Rank wasn’t interested in making a fight with Mayweather.”

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Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Friday, Jan 6, 2012