The ruling by Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa to allow Mayweather to begin his 90-day stint on June 1 came with the fighter's manager and supporters, including rap star Lil' Kim and R&B artist Ray J, in the courtroom as a defence lawyer cited the economic boost that Las Vegas could get from the bout.
Mayweather, meanwhile, waited in the lobby of a nearby building to hear whether Saragosa would make him immediately begin serving the three-month sentence she imposed when the boxing champion pleaded guilty last month to a charge that he attacked his ex-girlfriend while two of their children watched in September 2010.
Saragosa said she was swayed by the last-minute plea from Mayweather's lawyer, Richard Wright, to let Mayweather postpone jail time so he can train to fight on the May 5 date his promoters promised months ago to pay-per-view television and the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wright said Mayweather wasn't trying to avoid the sentence, and emphasized the potential economic benefit of attracting fight fans and hotel guests to Las Vegas for a Mayweather fight. The lawyer estimated that Mayweather's last seven fights in Las Vegas generated a combined US$1 billion in business to the community. He projected the economic boost from a May 5 fight at more than $100 million.
"This is simply a delay because of prior commitments and contracts," Wright said.
"Mr. Mayweather has an obligation to this court," the judge responded. But "given the fact that Mr. Mayweather has these obligations, I am going to grant your request."
Prosecutor Lisa Luzaich protested that Mayweather should have to serve his sentence "just like anyone else."
Saragosa ordered Mayweather to immediately enrol in a yearlong domestic violence counselling program, and noted that under her original sentence, Mayweather faces an additional three months in jail if he doesn't comply. Mayweather also must complete 100 hours of community service and pay a $2,500 fine.
The judge didn't mention a promise that Mayweather's lawyers made in court last month that the boxer would donate $100,000 by the end of the year to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer research and support foundation in Las Vegas.
The non-profit operates with about a $1 million annual budget, foundation executive Stephanie Kirby said Friday. Kirby said Mayweather's lawyers have contacted the organization, but the donation has not been made.
Mayweather, 34, was seen leaving the courthouse area driving a new white Bentley Mulsanne, which has a base price of about $290,000. Mayweather posted photos of a new Bentley luxury sedan this week on his Twitter account, along with separate photos of himself with his children and himself serving people at a food line.
Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, issued a statement later saying the Mayweather camp was pleased the judge granted the postponement to allow for what he termed a "mega-fight." He wouldn't say whom Mayweather expects to fight.
Mayweather pleaded guilty Dec. 21 to a reduced battery domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges as part of a plea deal that saw prosecutors drop felony and misdemeanour charges that could have gotten him 34 years in prison.
Authorities say the case stems from a hair-pulling, punching and arm-twisting argument with Josie Harris, the mother of three of Mayweather's children, and threats to beat their sons in an argument about Harris dating another man. Harris, now 31, lives in the Los Angeles area with the couple's sons, now 12 and 10, and a daughter age 8.
Mayweather, who goes by the nickname "Money," has earned upward of $20 million for each of his two most recent fights, one against Victor Ortiz, which won him the WBC welterweight belt, and the other against Shane Mosley.
Mayweather is generally recognized as one of the two best boxers in the world, sharing that spotlight with Manny Pacquiao, a champion fighter from the Philippines. The two men have never fought in the ring, but have a defamation lawsuit pending in Las Vegas federal court stemming from statements by Mayweather that he suspected Pacquiao was taking performance-enhancing drugs.
As part of his plea deal, Mayweather also pleaded no contest Dec. 30 to misdemeanour harassment in a separate case stemming from a scuffle with a 21-year-old homeowner association security guard who claimed he was poked in the face during an argument about parking tickets on cars outside Mayweather's house.
The extended jail stint will be a first for Mayweather, who has been arrested several times since 2002 in battery and violence cases in Las Vegas and in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich.
He was convicted in 2002 of misdemeanour battery stemming from a fight with two women at a Las Vegas nightclub, received a suspended one-year jail sentence and was ordered to undergo impulse-control counselling. Wright said that case was overturned on appeal.
He was fined in Grand Rapids in February 2005 and ordered to perform community service after pleading no contest to misdemeanour assault and battery for a bar fight.
He was acquitted by a Nevada jury in July 2005 of accusations that he hit and kicked Harris during an argument outside a Las Vegas nightclub.
He was acquitted last October of misdemeanour allegations that he threatened two homeowner association security guards during a parking ticket argument separate from the one in November.
Mayweather also faces a civil lawsuit in state court in Las Vegas from two men who allege he orchestrated a shooting attack on them outside a skating rink in 2009. Police have never accused Mayweather of firing shots, and he has never been criminally charged in that case.
He is also on the hook for 40 hours of community service with the Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity Project under a South Carolina federal judge's order for dodging a deposition in a music rights lawsuit.
Habitat for Humanity has not heard from Mayweather, agency official Catherine Barnes said Friday.Suggest a correction