Mayweather returns to ring, but not against Pacquiao

No, Las Vegas’ self-proclaimed pound-for-pound boxing king won’t be facing Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao in the megafight all boxing fans having been clamoring for, but Floyd Mayweather Jr. will at least be back in the ring this fall — and in Vegas, nonetheless, when the undefeated Mayweather takes on Victor Ortiz in a WBC title fight on Sept 17.

“My fans have been waiting long enough,” the 34-year-old Mayweather tweeted Tuesday, of his upcoming bout at a yet-to-be-determined Las Vegas venue.

The former five-division champ Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) will end a 16-month layoff when he takes on the 24-year-old Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs), a southpaw from Garden City, Kan., who outpointed Andre Berto for the WBC crown in a thrilling fight in April.

“At this stage of my career, these are the challenges I look for, a young, strong, rising star looking to make his mark in boxing by beating me,” Mayweather said in a released statement.

“Like the rest of my opponents, he is going to try to prove that he can beat me. I commend him for accepting the fight, but on Sept. 17, Ortiz is just going to be another casualty, the 42nd one who tried and failed. Trust me, I will be ready.”

Since his last fight, a unanimous decision victory over Shane Mosley in May of 2010, Mayweather has made headlines for his antics outside the ring — releasing an expletive-filled video rant about Pacquiao, as well as racking up two criminal cases. One is a misdemeanor case for allegedly attacking security personnel in the lavish gated community he lives in, in Las Vegas. The other case, a domestic violence incident that occurred in September of 2010 with the mother of two of his children, includes four felony counts and four misdemeanor charges. Mayweather’s next court date is set for Oct. 20.

While boxing purists have wanted to see Mayweather-Pacquiao — a matchup that likely would be the richest bout in boxing history, but one that has seen negotiations fail, in part, because of drug-testing demands by Mayweather and accusations by both fighters’ promotional companies — Ortiz could represent a strong challenge to Mayweather’s perfect record.

Ortiz is younger than Mosley and heavier than Juan Manuel Marquez, who Mayweather defeated by unanimous decision in his first bout back since ending a 21-month retirement in September of 2009.

Pacquiao fights Marquez for a third time when the two meet at the MGM on Nov. 12. Wins by both Mayweather and Pacquiao still keeps the superfight alive.

But Ortiz promises he is no warm-up fight.

“I respect Mayweather because he has been a champion for many years and I know he will be ready, but so will I,” said Ortiz, who was harshly criticized for quitting in the sixth round of a slugfest against Marcos Maidana in 2009, but redeemed himself against Berto.

“I’m a strong fighter and I have worked really hard to silence my critics. I’m a world champion for a reason and I am not going to let go of my title any time soon. This is going to be a great fight, but I will remain a world champion for many years to come.”

The fight likely will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Mayweather’s last four fights have occurred. Also because of his long association with HBO, the network will probably handle the pay-per-view duties. Those details were not finalized Tuesday, but a national media tour promoting the fight will begin the week of June 20.