From Comcast SportsNetLAS VEGAS (AP) -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. got almost everything he wanted Wednesday, receiving a boxing license and naming an opponent and a date for his next fight. The unbeaten champion got everything except a showdown with Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather will fight Miguel Cotto on May 5 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden after Nevada's athletic commissioners granted him a conditional license for one fight before he goes to jail in June. Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs) chose Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs), the respected Puerto Rican champion, as his next opponent only after failing to land a date with Pacquiao, the superstar Filipino congressman. The two sides have discussed what's likely to be the most lucrative fight in boxing history for nearly three years without reaching a deal. "I presented Pacquiao with the fight," Mayweather said after meeting with the Nevada commission. "Pacquiao is blowing a lot of smoke. ... He doesn't really want to fight. I gave him a chance to step up to the plate. We're talking about a 10 million fighter that I tried to give 40 million to. We didn't even talk about the back end." While Mayweather once appeared to be uninterested in the bout, he's now very interested -- but Pacquiao's interest appears to have cooled. In recent weeks, Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum repeatedly discounted the possibility of setting up the fight. Mayweather and Pacquiao are boxing's top two stars, and they have taunted each other with jabs including a posting on Twitter on Wednesday in which Mayweather referred to the Filipino star as "Miss Pac Man." They also have a defamation lawsuit pending in federal court in Las Vegas stemming from Mayweather's accusations that Pacquiao took performance-enhancing drugs. "He's ducking and dodging me," Mayweather said of Pacquiao. "He really didn't want to fight from the beginning. He got famous basically by piggybacking off my name. When you mention Floyd Mayweather, man, you mention an all-time great, an icon in the sport of boxing. When you mention Manny Pacquiao, they say, Oh, that's the guy who's trying to fight Floyd Mayweather.' When it's all said and done, all the guy did is just piggyback off my name." Mayweather will take on Cotto at light middleweight (69.9 kilograms, 154 pounds), a move up from the longtime welterweight's past four fights. Mayweather, who beat Oscar De La Hoya at super welterweight in 2007, beat Victor Ortiz last September to win the WBC welterweight title. Before getting his license on a 5-0 vote, Mayweather got a lecture from Nevada athletic commissioners. They told the fighter, his manager-promoter and his lawyer they want a prefight report May 1 to ensure Mayweather abides by conditions set by a Nevada judge in a criminal domestic violence case. He will begin serving 90 days in jail June 1, but is likely to serve only about 60. Commission Chairman Raymond "Skip" Avansino Jr. said it would be a "tragedy" if Mayweather didn't meet the requirements to make the multimillion-dollar Cinco de Mayo bout. Mayweather received a temporary reprieve on his short jail sentence last month so he could fight on a traditionally huge weekend for boxing in Las Vegas. "But we think Mr. Mayweather is certainly going to comply with this," Avansino said. Commissioner Pat Lundvall told Mayweather he can't postpone or delay serving his jail sentence and must stay out of trouble for the 14-plus weeks he's training to take on Cotto. "I'm just happy to be fighting May 5," Mayweather said as he emerged from the hearing room. "They granted me one fight. I need to conduct myself like a gentleman and do everything that the court ordered and then come back in front of them and show them that I deserve to have a license for a whole year." Mayweather, a seven-time world champion in five weight classes, will turn 35 this month. Cotto is coming off of the second defense of his title, a 10th-round technical knockout win over Antonio Margarito in December. Cotto's only defeats are against Margarito and Pacquiao, who stopped Cotto in November 2009 in perhaps the Filipino champion's most impressive victory. "He's the best at 154," Mayweather said of Cotto. In a joint statement announcing the fight, Cotto said he intends to be the first boxer to beat Mayweather. "I am here to fight the biggest names in boxing," Cotto said. "I've never ducked anyone or any challenge in front of me." Both fighters have agreed to Olympic-style drug testing for the 12-round fight handled by Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions. The May 5 fight date was set before Mayweather pleaded guilty Dec. 21 before a Las Vegas judge to a reduced battery domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges. The plea stemmed from a hair-pulling, punching and arm-twisting argument in October 2010 with Josie Harris, the mother of three of Mayweather's children. Prosecutors dropped felony and misdemeanor charges that could have gotten Mayweather 34 years in prison.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with Bruins captain’s practice set to kick off this coming week.
*The Rangers sound like they’ll be a strong candidate for Kevin Shattenkirk, and the Dallas Stars seem willing to stand pat at the goalie position.
*PHT writer James O’Brien speculates on who might be the next Artemi Panarin to break into the NHL ranks from overseas, and make a big impact.
*Yahoo fantasy hockey is making some changes this season, and those that liked to draft Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns are going to bummed about it.
*An original St. Louis Blues jersey from the old time hockey days has found its way back to its original home in St. Louis.
*Steve Simmons says that Dave Bolland has earned the right to be more than a punch line at this point in his career.
*Looking back on Phil Esposito’s classic speech amid the 1972 Summit Series.
*The All-Snub team for the World Cup of Hockey would be a talented lineup, and would no doubt be captained by P.K. Subban.
*For something completely different: those looking for signs of a rift between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady need to call off the search.
Bill Belichick knows the data. Knows the risk involved in exposing a player to a waiver claim at this time of the year and long ago came to the uneasy truce that you can’t keep ‘em all and somebody else might snag ‘em.
This summer, the Patriots don’t have a mass of easy releases, especially among their rookies and first-year players.
There are a lot of very intriguing players who’ve looked good either in practices, games or both. Good enough to make the Pats think twice about whether they want to leave them exposed.
Top of mind for me there are corners Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc, linebacker Elandon Roberts, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and running back D.J. Foster who appear to be right on the roster bubble but are impressive.
“It’s something you take into consideration, it’s a hard thing to predict,” Belichick said when asked about weighing the risk of a released player the Patriots would like to re-sign to their practice squad getting claimed. “There’s going to be, I don’t know, certainly going to be a lot of players, probably over 1,000 players that will be exposed to waivers in the next eight calendar days or whatever it’ll be. I think the average claim is somewhere in the high 20s there…so that’s what the odds are. We’ve had years where we haven’t had any of our players claimed and we’ve had years where we’ve had multiple players claimed. I think at the end you just have to do what you think is best for your team.”
Belichick has given us terrific insight this week into how he and Nick Caserio strategize their roster decisions. When asked about the team’s releases in advance of the cutdown deadlines, Belichick mentioned the team wanted to have the ability to accommodate new players who may come available.
Enter the Barkevious.
He also got into projecting young players against established performance levels of veterans and weighing current contributions against future ones.
"That’s the $64,000 question," Belichick said on Tuesday. "That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?
"That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later. We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about."
As is the risk of having a player scooped.
“It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don’t know what the other  teams are going to do and who they’re going to put on the wire,” Belichick explained. “Even though you put a player out there that you don’t want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn’t think would get claimed and they were, so that’s really hard to predict.
“In the end, you’ve got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can’t bear to live without them, then you shouldn’t be exposing them to the wire,” he concluded. “That’s the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it’s an overriding factor. If you’re prepared to waive them, then you’ve got to be prepared to lose them. That’s just the way it is.”
Back in May, when the Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones in the second round, Patriots director of player personel Nick Caserio made it very clear: Jones' ability to return punts is what made him their favorite player available at pick No. 60.
"I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit," Caserio said at the time, "was his overall versatility -- punt return -- that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability."
Jones broke out with a 60-yard return on Friday against the Panthers, flashing the kind of explosion in the kicking game that the Patriots anticipated when they made him their first selection this year.
Though Jones has admitted he has had his share of issues securing the football during punt-return periods in practice, he has not dropped a punt in a preseason game. And in a conference call on Saturday, Bill Belichick acknowledged that Jones could be the team's primary punt returner in Week 1 even though the team employs two accomplished players who have performed that well in the past.
"Yeah, I think that’s a consideration," Belichick said of using Jones as the No. 1 returner. "Obviously, Danny [Amendola] and Julian [Edelman] have a lot of experience returning punts for us as well as kickoffs in the past. We’ll see how it goes, but we have good depth at that position and that’s always a good thing to have.
"We have confidence in all of those guys back there. Last night we even had D.J. [Foster] who got a chance to handle the ball. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but I think we have good competition and good depth at that position."
Saving Edelman and Amendola from further wear-and-tear could help extend the careers of both 30-year-old receivers. Not long after Jones was drafted, we took a look at how many hits Edelman and/or Amendola could be saved on a weekly basis by using Jones in the kicking game.