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April 24, 2014

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Mayweather Jr. to announce comeback Saturday

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Steve Marcus

Ricky Hatton of England, left, battles it out with Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the U.S. during their WBC welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas December 8, 2007. Mayweather knocked out Hatton in the 10th round.

Beyond the Sun

Apparently Floyd Mayweather Jr. wants in on Saturday's party too.

A source confirmed to the Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire on Friday night that HBO and Golden Boy Promotions have called an 11 a.m. news conference tomorrow, just hours before Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao's megafight at the MGM Grand, to announce the return of "Pretty Boy Floyd."

The undefeated Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) has been away from boxing more than 17 months, but multiple sources confirmed to ESPN's Dan Rafael that Mayweather Jr. has indeed reached a deal to fight Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18 at the MGM Grand.

Rafael wrote:

The sides have been close to a deal for several days but the one hang up had been the exact weight. In the end, they settled on a maximum weight of 144 pounds, a source involved with the fight told ESPN.com.

Mayweather had wanted the fight to be at 145 pounds, but Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs), the smaller man coming up from the 135-pound division where he is champion, wanted the weight as low as possible.

The deal was finalized Friday afternoon following a flurry of conversations over a six-hour period, another source said.

Besides the weight issue, the fight was delayed when Mayweather, a former five-division champion, visited promoter Don King last week at his Florida home, where they discussed a possible deal. But King couldn't get him to sign.

The seeds to a Mayweather comeback had been planted months ago when he began working out and sparring at his Las Vegas gym. Mayweather has also been dogged by IRS problems.

Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), who turned 32 on Feb. 24, told his advisers, Al Haymon and Leonard Ellerbe, in December that they were free to listen to fight offers.

Mayweather Jr.'s last bout was in December 2007, when he handed Ricky Hatton his only career loss, in a 147-pound fight at the MGM Grand. It was expected Mayweather Jr. would fight Oscar De La Hoya in a rematch of the bout he narrowly won earlier that year, but in June he announced his plans to walk away.

Last fall Mayweather Jr. was robbed for nearly $7 million in jewelry and rumors have circulated that besides the IRS problems, "Money Mayweather" has needed some extra cash. But that's kind of mind boggling considering the Grand Rapids, Mich. born Mayweather made more than $50 in an 18-month stretch that concluded with the Hatton fight.

In his time outside the ring, Mayweather has upped his celebrity status from that of just throwing large sums of cash up in the air at Las Vegas nightclubs. In addition to a recent commercial, Mayweather appeared on "Dancing With The Stars" and even made some extra loot participating in a couple of World Wrestling Entertainment events.

In addition to the large financial gain (Mayweather set the all-time pay-per-view buys record against De La Hoya in 2007), it looks like the challenge of proving that he, and not Manny Pacquiao or Ricky Hatton, is the sport's pound-for-pound best, was too tempting to pass on and thus the return to the ring.

While Mayweather wants a megafight with either Pacquiao or Hatton, first things first — and that's getting past the current WBA and WBO super lightweight champ Marquez.

Marquez, who battled Pacquiao to a draw in 2004 and a split decision loss last year, is coming off a dominant defeat of Juan Diaz, who he dropped in ninth round Feb. 28 in Houston to win the WBA title.

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