An agreement in principle has been reached for James Toney to defend his International Boxing Federation cruiserweight title in August against Bernard Hopkins, according to Dan Goossen, Toney's promoter.
But since the other promoter is Don King, and previous negotiations with Hopkins have been known to bog down over all sorts of matters, nothing will be certain until the signatures are on the contract.
Although Toney will be defending his 190-pound title, Hopkins, the undisputed middleweight champ, says he will enter the ring at 175 pounds.
To be determined for the match, which is expected to be on HBO pay-per-view, is a date and site.
"We'll see if we can reach agreement in a timely fashion," said HBO vice-president Mark Taffet, "and if Don finds an appropriate site, we'll be happy to go forward."
Dates under consideration are August 2, 9 and 16.
"I can't wait. I'm excited," Toney said. "I'm going back to the gym today. I'm going to shock the world again. Hold me back. I'm fighting for my legacy. This is going to be the biggest fight of my life."
That's the same thing Tony, a former middleweight and super middleweight champion, was saying a month ago when he won the cruiserweight title by beating Vassiliy Jirov on a decision. Tony may not have shocked the world, but he certainly surprised many in the boxing community who figured his poor eating habits, poor discipline and managerial problems had left Toney, 34, a shot fighter.
Hopkins has a bigger name than Jirov, but it's a name Hopkins has largely squandered since his memorable victory over Felix Trinidad in 2001. Embroiled in a lawsuit he lost to promoter Lou DiBella and matched up with no-name opponents, Hopkins has done more to knock himself out of the spotlight than any opponent could.
"He is a man who won the lottery and lost the ticket," King said recently.
Hopkins figures he can reclaim that ticket by emulating his archrival, Roy Jones, who moved up earlier this year from light-heavyweight to win the World Boxing Assn. heavyweight title by defeating champion John Ruiz.
"What is [Hopkins] going to do when he is hit by someone like me?" Toney said. "I'm not Felix Trinidad. I'm for real."
Is this fight for real? Not until the names Don King and Bernard Hopkins appear on the dotted line.