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Mayweather Jr. comeback finalized

May 2, 2009 | 12:55 pm


Floyd Mayweather Jr. officially announced his return from "retirement" today, when a July 18 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez was announced at MGM Grand.

Taking the stand at a news conference, Mayweather said, "I don't have to tell you guys what I'm going to do. You already know what I'm going to do. Ain't no smaller man going to retire me.

"How am I not the king when nobody's taken my throne?"

Mayweather hasn't fought since scoring a TKO over Ricky Hatton in December 2007. He then said he was "retiring" months later, collapsing negotiations for a rematch against Oscar De La Hoya.

When he quit, "Pretty Boy" (39-0, 25 KOs) was considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world but he's since been supplanted by Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines. Pacquiao and Hatton fight later tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and Pacquiao is more than a 2-to-1 favorite to defeat the Englishman.

"In my books, he's coming back at No. 1," said Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions. "He's the No. 1 pay-per-view star in the world," noting that Mayweather bouts against De La Hoya and Hatton were purchased in 3.4 million homes and generated nearly $250 million in revenue.

The boxer has enhanced his mainstream appeal by appearing on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," World Wrestling Entertainment's "Wrestlemania" and HBO's reality boxing series "24/7" twice. His return was long considered inevitable, and his advisor Leonard Ellerbe said neighbors, from "the strip clubs" to Ellerbe's pastor, have long asked "when is Floyd coming back."

"The king is back," Ellerbe said. "Be careful what you ask for."

In Marquez, he'll be fighting a world lightweight champion who has most recently knocked out Joel Casamayor and the younger Juan Diaz. Marquez has fought Pacquiao to a draw and a close loss in recent years.

"I want to be the best fighter," Marquez said. "You need to beat the best. At this point, the best is Floyd Mayweather. He's No. 1."

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Floyd Mayweather Jr. talks to reporters after defeating Ricky Hatton in December 2007. Credit: John Gichigi / Getty Images