Bodies deny request for unification bout

LOS ANGELES -- Next month's highly anticipated light
heavyweight fight between Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson -- both
of whom knocked out Roy Jones Jr. -- will not be for a title.

Looking for big paydays, both Tarver and Johnson will relinquish
their respective titles in order to face each other, promoters
for the fighters announced Tuesday.

When the fighters agreed last Thursday to face each other
Dec. 18 at the Staples Center, it was thought to be a
unification bout, with Tarver putting up his WBC light
heavyweight belt and Johnson putting on the line his IBF

According to the promoters, both fighters requested permission
from the sanctioning bodies to fight each other rather than the
mandatory No. 1 contender. Apparently turned down, the fighters
agreed to turn in their respective titles.

"It is with great regret that I must inform you that I have
concluded that the best route for me and my family is to fight
Glen Johnson on December 18, 2004," Tarver wrote in a letter to
the WBC, according to Star Boxing, his promoter.

"I've got nothing but pride to let it be known that without the
avenue the IBF provided for Glen, he would not be in this
position today -- which is to make in excess of seven figures for
this bout," Johnson's promoter, Dan Goossen, wrote in a letter
to the IBF.

By fighting each other, the boxers are bypassing top contenders
in their respective organizations. But a WBC light heavyweight
title fight between Tarver and Paul Briggs or an IBF title bout
between Johnson and Rico Hoye would not generate anywhere near
the interest or revenue of a Tarver-Johnson showdown.

"We all had to look to the future of (Johnson's) family and kids,
which is the one aspect of this ordeal I'm very proud to
deliver to our fighter -- future financial stability," Goossen

Although both fighters relinquished their belts, both still have
jaw-dropping wins over Jones that never can be taken away from
them. Tarver battered Jones in May and Johnson stunned Jones in

Tarver (22-2, 18 KOs), who won a bronze medal for the United
States in the 1996 Olympics, lost a controversial decision to
Jones in November 2003. He avenged that defeat with a shocking
second-round knockout of Jones six months later.

Johnson (41-9-2, 28 KOs), a native of Jamaica, captured the
title with a unanimous decision over Clinton Woods in February
2004. He knocked out Jones seven months later.