Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Updated: March 19, 2:20 PM ET
Sources: Mayweather Jr. close to return
By Dan Rafael
Floyd Mayweather Jr., who hasn't fought since December 2007 and retired as the undefeated pound-for-pound king in June, is planning to fight again -- possibly as soon as July 11 -- two sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.
"He is coming back. I've been around him. He's ready to dance again very soon," said one source, who recently spent time with Mayweather and has known him for years. "He's itching to go. The way he sounded, he is willing to take on whoever they throw in his face. He would do the [Manny] Pacquiao-[Ricky] Hatton winner, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez. The only one he doesn't have an interest in is [a rematch with] Oscar De La Hoya. But in Floyd's mind, he knows there is one Godzilla, and that's a fight with Pacquiao."
Mayweather has been sparring and working out regularly in his Las Vegas gym and is in great shape, according to one of the sources.
Before Mayweather fights one of the big names, both sources said Mayweather's team has talked to HBO about the availability of July 11, the network's date for that month's edition of "World Championship Boxing."
Mayweather, whose last four bouts, and five of his last six, have been on HBO PPV, has expressed an interest in fighting on HBO rather than pay-per-view for a possible tune-up bout ahead of a possible fall fight with the winner of the May 2 Hatton-Pacquiao bout.
HBO, however, would have to come up with a substantial license fee to make it work, so it remains to be seen if a bout on the network could be made. A summer comeback fight for Mayweather, who has been dogged by IRS issues, could also go on pay-per-view instead.
HBO also has another dilemma. It has not committed to giving Main Events and Golden Boy Promotions the July 11 date for a fight that is being negotiated between cruiserweight champion Tomasz Adamek and former two-division champion Bernard Hopkins, and one of the reasons is because HBO has also been talking to Mayweather about the date, said one of the sources, who has knowledge of HBO's issue.
"They don't want to upset Floyd and they hope the situation resolves itself," the source said.
HBO president Ross Greenburg was tight-lipped on the matter.
"Not only do I have no comment, it's premature to discuss," Greenburg told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "There are no real substantive talks."
But has Mayweather or one of his advisers contacted HBO about a summer fight?
"I'm not confirming or denying that," Greenburg said. "I'm not going to comment. Call me back in a few weeks."
Talk about a Mayweather comeback has swirled for months.
In December, Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), who turned 32 on Feb. 24, told his advisers, Al Haymon and Leonard Ellerbe, that they were free to listen to offers for fights.
Earlier this month, Mayweather's father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., who trains Hatton, told media members (who were on a teleconference to discuss Hatton-Pacquiao) that his son's ring return was imminent.
"Of course, there is no question about it," Mayweather Sr. said. "He's trying to get a fight right now, as we speak. He's gonna fight again."
Haymon could not be reached for comment. Ellerbe did not return numerous telephone messages and e-mails.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.