By Patrick Kehoe and Paul Upham: As we approach the halfway mark of 2004 and with HBO Pay-Per-View only having shows in November and December still
to finalise, there is much frantic shuffling, wheeling and dealing as the majority of the leading pound for pound fighters lock in their schedules for
the remainder of the year.
Starting at heavyweight, Monte Barrett has been approved as an opponent for heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, but no deal has been made. Vitali
of course wants a Lennox Lewis rematch, but he could end up facing James Toney or Antonio Tarver. Unification matches with Chris Byrd and John Ruiz
are also options. While there was the possibility that Antonio Tarver could face Roy Jones Jr for a third time, it now seems that Roy wants a tune-up
at light heavyweight first. Initially it was thought that he may face WBA champion Fabrice Tiozzo, but now IBF champion Glenn Johnson has emerged as
the more likely opponent. It is reasoned that Jones Jr could not have accepted Tarver's financial demands for a third fight and is trying to soften
the blow by winning a title belt before facing the "Magic Man" again.
Jones Jr. still has a few weeks before he has to come up with a firm decision and September 25 has been pencilled in by HBO for his return. If Tarver
doesn't get Jones immediately, he could be facing Toney or Tyson at heavyweight. Talk of a Tarver-Tyson fight has come out of nowhere during the last
two weeks, but HBO won't be touching it unless they are sure that 'Iron Mike' is free from Showtime. If Toney doesn't fight Tarver or Klitschko he
will rematch Vassiliy Jirov at heavyweight. Felix Trinidad vs. Ricardo Mayorga and Bernard Hopkins vs. De La Hoya are on back to back HBO Pay-Per-View
shows over three weeks and are being called "Middleweight Magic". The perfect scenario would be to have the winners face off in the first half of 2005
with the ultimate winner to face Roy Jones Jr. A Jones Jr rematch with Toney in 2005 is also being mooted. Winky Wright gets Shane Mosley again on
November 20 and wants De La Hoya or Trinidad early in 2005.
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