Fight vs. Marquez set for July 18

LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. insists it's not all about the money.

Not totally, anyway.

"I guess I just missed boxing," Mayweather said Saturday. "Somebody's got to keep the sport up and running. Why not me?"

That was the question Mayweather asked himself as he took a break from the sport that has consumed his life from the time he learned to walk. He wasn't gone long, but his 11-month retirement was enough to make him realize that he wanted to fight -- and fight a lot more.

"I'm still the biggest draw in boxing," Mayweather said. "Everybody wants to fight me because they know I'm the cash cow."

Mayweather, 32, will return to the ring July 18 in a fight against lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who will move up two weight classes to get his share of the riches a Mayweather fight can produce. It will be his first fight since he stopped Ricky Hatton in the 10th round of their December 2007 bout.

"I left on top, and I came back on top," Mayweather said. "I'm here to fight and reclaim what's mine."

Indeed, when Mayweather announced his retirement last June he was generally regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, an honor now mainly given Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather's decision to retire instead of fighting a rematch against Oscar De La Hoya led to Pacquiao getting the shot that he capitalized on.

Mayweather announced his comeback plans in a theater at the MGM Grand hotel, just hours before Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton were to meet in a 140-pound fight in the hotel's arena.

Mayweather, should he beat Marquez, could get the winner of Saturday's fight in the fall, but he wasn't planning to stick around and watch it.

"I'm taking my daughter bowling tonight," he said.

Mayweather, who is unbeaten in 39 fights, brushed off questions about the state of his finances, saying he made $8 million last year without having a fight and that the rumors he was in financial difficulty were just that. But the lure of many more millions was in the back of his mind as he began sparring once again in recent weeks, the itch to fight returning.

Mayweather was always well known in boxing, but it was the HBO reality series "24/7" featuring his dysfunctional family before his fight with De La Hoya that really cemented his fame. He took advantage of it to appear as a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars," made an appearance as a wrestler in Wrestlemania and currently appears in an AT&T television commercial.

"I bring the most controversy to the sport," he said. "The others are too nice. This is a brutal sport."

Mayweather and his advisers were coy about the contract weight for the Marquez fight, saying it would be a welterweight bout. But De La Hoya, who will be promoting the fight, said it calls for a 143-pound limit instead of the 147-pound welterweight limit.

That was a concession to Marquez, who just last year weighed 129 pounds for a fight against Pacquiao and has only fought twice as a lightweight. Though moving up in weight, Marquez is still considered a dangerous opponent, and many thought he won both his fights against Pacquiao.