- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Joe Calzaghe has vacated his WBC version of the super middleweight title, clearing the path for Jermain Taylor, the former undisputed middleweight champion who now plans to fight at super middleweight, to face England's Carl Froch for the now-vacant belt.
Calzaghe (45-0, 32 KOs) is closing in on a deal to defend his Ring magazine light heavyweight championship against former undisputed champion Roy Jones Jr. in the fall and then retire. Calzaghe won the light heavyweight title via close decision against Bernard Hopkins on April 19 and has chosen to give up the belt, rather than face Froch, the mandatory challenger.
Calzaghe also owns super middleweight belts sanctioned by two other organizations, but he has not yet officially vacated them, although he is expected to do so.
In the wake of Calzaghe's move, the WBC has ordered Taylor promoter Lou DiBella and Froch promoter Mick Hennessy to begin negotiations. If they can't reach an agreement for Taylor (27-2-1, 17 KOs) and Froch (23-0, 19 KOs), a purse bid will be scheduled for July 25 at the organization's Mexico City office.
"I'm delighted to get the title fight and just hope Taylor shows a real fighting heart and goes through with this fight," Froch said. "I've heard he was talking about fighting Jeff Lacy next, but that fight is a mismatch in my opinion.
"I would knock Lacy out in a round or two and it is an easy fight for Taylor, so I just hope Jermain doesn't squirm out of this situation with me and I think the broadcasters shouldn't allow him to either," Froch said. "I heard Lou DiBella has said 'who the [heck] is Carl Froch to American television,' but he will know who the [heck] the 'Cobra' is when his fighter is laying horizontal in front of him. Then I will ask him what does he know about boxing?"
Said Hennessy, "I've been speaking with Lou DiBella for a while now and I just hope they don't start opting for easier fights for Jermain. This could be a massive fight."
DiBella has been negotiating a fall fight between Taylor and Lacy, Taylor's 2000 U.S. Olympic teammate, who lost his super middleweight belt to Calzaghe in 2006. But DiBella has also said Froch was a possibility for Taylor.
Ultimately, the fight that is made will depend largely on the preference of HBO, which has Taylor under contract.
Calzaghe, meantime, faces a potential road block to his fight with Jones, which is being eyed for Sept. 20. Calzaghe severed ties to longtime promoter Frank Warren last week and faces possible legal action from him.
Calzaghe, who has a weekly column in his hometown newspaper, the South Wales Argus, wrote Friday that he expects to meet with Warren "in the next few days."
"I can only reiterate that I am very keen for my decision to be respected and hope it doesn't create animosity between Frank and myself," Calzaghe wrote. "Frank has been involved in my career for over a decade and working with him I have enjoyed fantastic success, something I won't forget. However, I have made my decision and, as I stated in the Argus, it is my intention to fight Roy Jones Jr. in what I expect will be my final fight before retirement. Not many fighters know to bow out at the right time. Too many go on and on and I am determined not to do that."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
5dDavid M. Hale