Six months after announcing his retirement from boxing and walking away from his perch as pound-for-pound king and welterweight world champion, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has given the first indication that he is considering a comeback.
"Floyd has given Team Mayweather the green light to go out there and evaluate the biggest fights for him, to come back to him and present it to him. Then he will consider it," Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's best friend and adviser, told ESPN.com on Saturday.
"If what we present him is something he's interested in doing, he will do it."
When asked if that meant Mayweather would fight again, Ellerbe said, "I think what I just said speaks for itself."
Mayweather, 31, who hasn't fought since knocking out Ricky Hatton in the 10th round last December, announced his retirement in June in a heartfelt statement issued to media members.
In the statement, Mayweather said, in part: "It is with a heavy heart that I write you this message today. I have decided to permanently retire from boxing. This decision was not an easy one for me to make as boxing is all I have done since I was a child.
"However, these past few years have been extremely difficult for me to find the desire and joy to continue in the sport."
Ellerbe said wherever Mayweather goes he is inundated with fan requests for him to fight again, especially over the past month while they have been out on the road co-promoting the
"I Am Music Tour," which features artists Lil' Wayne, Keyshia Cole and T-Pain.
This week, while on a tour stops in Houston and Dallas, Ellerbe said Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs) saw an ESPNEWS ticker item saying that Hatton's father, Ray Hatton, said that a Mayweather emissary had contacted him to inquire about a rematch. Ellerbe, who along with Al Haymon are the only ones who conduct business on Mayweather's behalf, said that got under Mayweather's skin because it wasn't true.
"Floyd saw that [expletive] on ESPN," Ellerbe said. "They keep running their mouth. Floyd said, 'This guy wants to fight me, that guy wants to fight. What are they talking about? We ain't never looked into anything.' These guys are trying to use Floyd's name to elevate their name and position, but they can't do it without him. That Hatton quote came across the screen and Floyd was like, 'Everyone keeps running their mouth about me, so go see what they are all talking about.'
"Floyd said, 'If they want to keep on mentioning my name, fine, but they can't make the biggest fight in boxing without me.' "
Hatton promoter Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, which promotes Manny Pacquiao, moved closer this week to finalizing a deal for a Hatton-Pacquiao fight on May 2. The winner of that bout against Mayweather would loom as by far the biggest fight the sport has to offer.
"Floyd hasn't specifically said, look at this fight or that fight, but he did say we should evaluate the biggest fight out there and he will consider it," Ellerbe said. "He didn't mention anyone's name in particular, but he's aware Ricky Hatton said they were trying to do something and then a lot of the British press called. But I haven't even talked to Ricky Hatton or anyone on his team. I talked to Ricky's father at the [Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi fight in Las Vegas on Nov. 22] very briefly, very cordial, and the same with Ricky, but we didn't talk about boxing or a fight with Floyd."
Mayweather has kept a low-profile in boxing circles since his retirement. He has rarely been at fights other than at the Chad Dawson-Antonio Tarver light heavyweight title bout in October in Las Vegas, and that was only because a young fighter Mayweather works with was on the undercard.
However, Ellerbe did say that although Mayweather rarely goes to fights or watches them on television, he did watch Hatton-Malignaggi and Pacquiao's Dec. 6 destruction of Oscar De La Hoya, whom Mayweather beat with a split decision in May 2007.
"He did see Hatton's fight and said it was the best Ricky had looked in a long time with his [estranged] dad [Floyd Mayweather Sr.] training him," Ellerbe said. "He said Ricky looked sharp with his father in the corner."
As for Pacquiao, Ellerbe said Mayweather thought Pacquiao was "an excellent fighter and it was a tremendous win."
"But," Ellerbe added, "Floyd said, 'He's a good fighter, but I'll beat his [expletive].' "
Ellerbe said if Mayweather did come back to fight it would not be for anything less than a megafight.
"Hell no," Ellerbe said when asked about the possibility of a tune-up bout. "If Floyd considers something, it would be the biggest thing."
Dan Rafael is a senior boxing writer for ESPN.com.