Bodies deny request for unification bout

Updated: November 10, 2004, 1:53 AM ET

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 strap.

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 said.

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 September.

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.