Floyd Mayweather Jr. dropped a hint — sort of — that a comeback for the undefeated welterweight champ may be in the works. At least, that's how boxing fans read his comments Tuesday night — fans who remain baffled that Mayweather would retire just one win shy of breaking Rocky Marciano's record for most fights in an undefeated career.
Marciano reigned as World Heavyweight Champion from 1952 until 1956 when he retired at age 32 with an undefeated 49-0 record. Mayweather, who has held belts in five weight classes ranging from 130-pound Super Featherweight to 154 pound Junior Middleweight, retired at age 38 after his September 12 victory over Andre Berto.
Mayweather's career record also stands at 49-0 and most boxing fans and experts remain skeptical that the temptation of winning his 50th fight without a loss will not bring him back into the ring at least one more time.
"My career is over. It's official," he said after beating Berto on September 12.
"I'm close to 40 years old. There's nothing else to prove in the sport of boxing. I'm leaving the sport with all my faculties, I'm still sharp, I'm still smart. I've accomplished everything, there's nothing else to accomplish in the sport."But on Tuesday night, during a live boxing card aired by Fox Sports, Mayweather joined broacaster and former boxer Paulie Malignaggi for a brief interview, during which he made the comment which may or may not have been a joke, but which media members and fans interpreted as Mayweather indicating that he remains open to a possible comeback
"I'm not coming back — but," Mayweather told Malignaggi, leaving a pause before adding, "I'm just happy to be on the other side."
On May 2, Mayweather fought the opponent for whom boxing fans had clamored since 2009 — the Philippines slugger Manny Pacquiao who at one time was ranked equal to or above Mayweather on most experts' "pound for pound" Top 10 lists.
But Mayweather defeated Pacquiao easily by unanimous decision in a fight that was widely criticized as a disappointment due to Mayweather's highly defensive, cautious style, and Pacquiao's inability to mount a sustained attack on the elusive champ.
Nonetheless, the fight was the biggest moneymaker in the history of boxing — surpassing the 2007 bout between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.
Mayweather announced his retirement after that fight as well, shortly before he was set to sign for a rematch against De la Hoya.
In fact, Mayweather has "retired" on multiple occasions in his career. He announced his retirement in 2006 after defeating Argentine Carlos Baldomir for the world welterweight title — but ended his "retirement" to fight De La Hoya the following year.
He made his next comeback from "retirement" to fight popular British welterweight champ Ricky Hatton in December of 2007 — just seven months after teh De La Hoya bout. Mayweather won the Hatton fight by knockout, then announced that he was retiring again — only to re-emerge in September of 2009, fighting Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, again winning in dominant fashion despite his 21-month "retirement."
Mayweather's record of repeatedly declaring himself retired only to fight again when what he considered a worthy opportunity presented itself leads not only boxing fans to anticipate a Floyd Mayweather Jr. comeback, but other fighters also believe that Mayweather has not yet laced up the gloves for the final time.
British welterweight Amir Khan said this week that he expects to fight Pacquiao in February, and a victory in that fight will produce yet another Mayweather comeback.
"I think Floyd Mayweather will have one more fight. He's on 49-0 and he knows that. He's got one more fight left in him," Khan told the British Sky Sports network on Monday. "At the moment he's matching Rocky Marciano's record but he can beat him and get to 50. I'm there ready and waiting for him."
But despite his comments to Malignaggi on Tuesday, Floyd Mayweather Jr. continues to insist that he has no comeback planned.
[Images: Ethan Miller / Getty Images / Fox Sports Screen Capture ]