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Froch-Taylor on tap for April 25

3/10/2009 - Boxing

Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, who has been associated with HBO since start of his professional career in 2001, is jumping to rival network Showtime for his shot at a super middleweight title.

Taylor will challenge England's Carl Froch for a 168-pound belt at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn., on April 25 (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/PT), organizers announced Tuesday.

HBO's contractual obligation to Taylor ended with his victory last fall against 2000 U.S. Olympic teammate Jeff Lacy in the title elimination bout that earned Taylor a shot at Froch. However, HBO didn't make an offer for Froch-Taylor and promoter Lou DiBella made a deal with Showtime, which has Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs) for at least two bouts, according to DiBella.

"Jermain Taylor is a great fighter and I am excited to have him make his Showtime debut on April 25," Showtime boxing chief Ken Hershman said. "He's the more accomplished fighter and the better-known guy right now, but in Froch, he's facing the naturally bigger fighter and a man that has never lost. Our viewers have come to expect competitive fights month-in, month-out on Showtime and this fight should be no different.

"The 168-pound weight division is one of the deepest and most exciting in boxing. Froch-Taylor is just one of many compelling matchups that this division has to offer."

When Joe Calzaghe relinquished his various super middleweight belts to move up to light heavyweight, Froch (24-0, 19 KOs) defeated Canada's Jean Pascal in December via unanimous decision in an all-action slugfest to claim one of the vacant titles.

DiBella and Froch promoter Mick Hennessy had a difficult negotiation but finally worked things out.

"This isn't a case of a young fighter on the way up taking advantage of a big name on the way out or two old timers cashing out with a big payday. This is a real fight," Hennessy said. "You've got two of the world's finest fighters, both at the peak of their powers and out to prove that they are amongst the best pound for pound fighters in the world."

Said DiBella, who has promoted Taylor, of Little Rock, Ark., for his entire career, "I expect fireworks in this matchup. There is an aggressive, straight-ahead, rugged champion fighting a seasoned athletic warrior. It is a can't-miss fight and the title will change hands."

Taylor, 30, a bronze medal winner in the 2000 Olympics, twice defeated Bernard Hopkins in 2005 to win and retain the middleweight championship. He made three more defenses before being knocked out by Kelly Pavlik in the seventh round in an upset in September 2007.

Pavlik outpointed Taylor in the nontitle rematch in February 2008, but Taylor got back on track with a one-sided decision against former titleholder Lacy in November.

Froch, 31, will be fighting outside of the United Kingdom for only the second time. He knocked out Henry Porras in the eighth round in Hollywood, Calif., in April 2005.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.