Published December 21, 2011
LAS VEGAS – Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a perfect 42-0 in the ring and has dodged significant jail time several times in domestic violence cases in Las Vegas and Michigan.
But his courtroom streak came to an end Wednesday when a Las Vegas judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to a reduced battery domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges.
The case stemmed from a hair-pulling, punching and arm-twisting argument with his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris while two of their children watched in September 2010.
"Punishment is appropriate," Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa said after a prosecutor complained that Mayweather has been in trouble before and hasn't faced serious consequences.
"No matter who you are, you have consequences to your actions when they escalate to this level of violence," she said.
Good behavior could knock several weeks off Mayweather's sentence. but he will likely serve most of the sentence set to begin Jan. 6, said Officer Bill Cassell, a Las Vegas police spokesman.
Mayweather and his manager, Leonard Ellerbe, declined comment outside the courtroom.
The jail time raises doubts about a possible showdown between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a champion fighter from the Philippines against whom Mayweather's welterweight success is usually measured.
A long-awaited fight between the two men regarded as among the best of their generation has been delayed by stalling techniques and verbal sparring.
The two men have a defamation lawsuit pending in Las Vegas federal court stemming from statements by Mayweather that he suspects Pacquiao was taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Mayweather returned in September from a 16-month layoff to continue his undefeated record with a controversial knockout of Victor Ortiz in Las Vegas.
Mayweather's promoters have a May 5 date reserved against an as-yet unnamed opponent at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. But if Mayweather is jailed until the end of March, it could cut into the usual eight-plus weeks he takes to train.
Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said licenses for all fighters expire on Saturday, and most, including Mayweather, have yet to reapply for next year.
He said Mayweather would be asked on his license application if he was convicted of any misdemeanors or felonies.
Kizer said commissioners would then decide whether to approve or deny his license or hold a hearing to talk about it. The commission has been in contact with prosecutors and Mayweather's lawyers as cases against him have progressed, he said.
"The commissioners are definitely up to speed on it and will be when it comes time to consider any kind of application," he said.
Lee Samuels, a spokesman for Pacquiao's promoter Top Rank and Bob Arum, declined comment on Mayweather's sentencing and its possible effect on a match.
Mayweather, 34, stood still in a striped olive vest and showed no reaction as the judge sentenced him to six months in the Clark County jail then suspended half the term.
She gave him credit for three days previously served in jail and ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service, pay a $2,500 fine and complete a yearlong domestic violence counseling program.
The plea deal avoided trial on felony and misdemeanor that could have gotten Mayweather 34 years in state prison if he was convicted on all counts.
Mayweather also is expected to plead no contest next week to a separate misdemeanor harassment charge involving a 21-year-old homeowner association security guard who was poked in the face during an argument about parking tickets placed on cars outside Mayweather's house.
Mayweather's lawyer, Karen Winckler, said she may appeal what she called the unusual sentence handed down Wednesday.
In court, she called Mayweather "a champion in many areas" and aired a list of his good deeds, including buying toys for children for Christmas and promising to donate $100,000 to breast cancer research by the end of December.
Winckler argued that the public would benefit more if Mayweather performed 100 hours of community service with children.
Mayweather 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.
Mayweather has a Jan. 31 deadline on that court order. Habitat for Humanity official Catherine Barnes said Wednesday that Mayweather had not started to log the hours.
Saragosa said Wednesday she was persuaded to jail Mayweather following his admission that he hit Harris and twisted her arm, and that two of their children, ages 9 and 10, witnessed the attack.
Mayweather threatened to kill or make Harris "disappear," Saragosa said, and their 10-year-old son ran from the house and jumped a back gate to fetch security. Mayweather had taken cellphones belonging to Harris and the two boys.
"Things could have gotten more out of hand than they did," the judge said.
Prosecutor Lisa Luzaich cited three previous domestic violence arrests for scuffles involving Harris, with whom Mayweather has three children, and three cases involving another woman with whom Mayweather has one child.
Fines were of no consequence to Mayweather, Luzaich said.
Mayweather goes by the nickname "Money," and was guaranteed $25 million for the Ortiz fight that won him the WBC's welterweight belt. Mayweather earned more than $20 million in a previous fight against "Sugar" Shane Mosley.
Mayweather 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 misdemeanor battery stemming from a fight with two women at a Las Vegas nightclub. He received a suspended one-year jail sentence and was ordered to undergo impulse-control counseling.
He was fined in Grand Rapids in February 2005 and ordered to perform community service after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery for a bar fight.
He was acquitted by a Nevada jury in July 2005 after being accused of hitting and kicking Harris during an argument outside a Las Vegas nightclub.
He was acquitted again in October of misdemeanor allegations that he threatened two homeowner association security guards during a parking ticket argument.
Mayweather also faces a civil lawsuit 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 the case.