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Floyd Mayweather to fight Victor Ortiz

Floyd Mayweather Jr., a former five-division champion and one of the top pound-for-pound stars of the era, will end a 16-month layoff when he challenges welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17.

"My fans have been waiting long enough. Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz. Sept 17, 2011 for the WBC world championship," Mayweather tweeted Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement.

Details of the pay-per-view fight, including which network will handle it and the specific site, are being worked out, Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, Ortiz's promoter, told ESPN.com.

But Mayweather said he will be ready.

"I am ready to return to the ring and give my fans a fantastic night of boxing by fighting the best out there and for me, that is Victor Ortiz," Mayweather said. "He is the current champion and an extremely talented fighter who showed amazing skills, and heart, in his last performance against Andre Berto.

"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. 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."

Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs), 24, was the 2008 ESPN.com prospect of the year and one of boxing's rising stars. The southpaw from Garden City, Kan., now based in Oxnard, Calif., moved up from junior welterweight and outpointed Berto to win a welterweight title on April 16. It was a thrilling fight -- a leading fight of the year candidate -- in which Ortiz and Berto both were knocked down twice. Mayweather sat ringside for the fight.

"I respect Mayweather because he has been a champion for many years and I know he will be ready, but so will I," Ortiz said. "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."

As soon as the fight with Berto was over, Ortiz talked about wanting a big fight against one of boxing's biggest stars, Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.

"He made it clear to the press and to me after the fight with Berto that he would like to fight the biggest fights out there, and that he was ready for that kind of fight," Schaefer said. "I told him I heard what he said, that he wanted a megafight, and I said, 'I can't promise you, but I will try to get you a fight with Floyd Mayweather. Let's see if I can get it done.' I was very happy when I was able to make the call to Victor to tell him we got it done. He was absolutely thrilled when the offer came and was immediately like, 'Where do I sign?' This is exactly the kind of challenge he's been waiting for."

Ortiz was heavily criticized when he quit in the sixth round of a grueling slugfest against Marcos Maidana in 2009. But Ortiz redeemed himself to many when he showed immense heart and gutted out the victory against Berto.

Now, Ortiz, who made $400,000 for that fight, has the biggest challenge of his career, one for which he will make undisclosed millions.

"I think it's an interesting fight and I think it will be an exciting fight because Victor Ortiz is a pressure fighter and he will come to fight all night long," said Schaefer, adding that he had been working to put together the fight for about a month. "When he smells blood he knows to go for it. He has not only tremendous power in his fists, he has the youth and size advantage. The guy also has balls, I gotta hand it to him.

"Floyd hasn't fought in 16 months. He's fighting a southpaw and Victor is bigger, younger, stronger and he has knockout power. Obviously, Mayweather has skills, speed and great defense. It's going to be a very interesting fight."

Mayweather, 34, has not fought since easily outpointing Shane Mosley on May 1, 2010. Since knocking out Ricky Hatton in December 2007, Mayweather has only fought twice, a decision win against Juan Manuel Marquez in September 2009 and the win against Mosley.

Most of the news Mayweather has made has been outside of the ring. Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) has had numerous scrapes with the Las Vegas
police and has two criminal cases pending against him. One is a misdemeanor case for allegedly attacking a security guard at the Las Vegas gated community he lives in. Mayweather also has another case in which he faces four felonies and four misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident with the mother of two of his children in September 2010. His next court date on the domestic violence case is not until Oct. 20.

Mayweather has also declined to face Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound king and a welterweight titlist. Many believe a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout would be the biggest money-generating fight in boxing history.

The lone issue that caused Pacquiao-Mayweather to fall apart during the first round of two negotiations was Mayweather's insistence on random blood testing during the lead-up to the fight, even though that is not required to do so by any commission in the world. Pacquiao was willing to have blood tests, but the sides could not agree on the specific protocol.

Mayweather has said numerous times that for any fight he has, he will insist on random drug testing. Mosley accepted it. Schaefer said that Ortiz also agreed to drug testing under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency protocol, which includes random blood and urine testing.

There will be a national media tour promoting the fight, which is being promoted by Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy, beginning the week of June 20.

"When Floyd fights, everyone stops to watch and this is an exciting time for boxing as it always is when Floyd steps into the ring," said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. "There is no better showman than Floyd and he backs up his legacy with amazing, one-of-a-kind skills. Victor Ortiz has shown us that he is a great fighter too and for the two of them to meet makes for a gigantic night for fans all over the world. It's always a thrill to see Floyd fight and it's even better when he faces the best out there such as a true champion like Ortiz. This is going to be a fight to remember.

"Sports fans have a lot to look forward to on September 17."

Schaefer said the site and pay-per-view provider -- presumably HBO based on Mayweather's career-long association with the network -- would be announced shortly.

"We are in talks with the different parties, such as venues and television partners," Schaefer said. "We are going to be putting a list together of assets we are looking for and hopefully we will be able to announce it very shortly. I will be talking later on (Tuesday) with HBO and having conversations with the MGM Grand as well. We'll start negotiating potential deal structures and see if they will be able to fulfill our wish list."

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.