Boxing: Champion's gesture may help Woods to world title

Clinton Woods will fight Glencoffe Johnson, of Jamaica, for the vacant International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title next Friday at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield if an extra £15,000 in sanctioning fees can be raised by his promoters.

Woods and Johnson were due to fight a final eliminator for the IBF title, but yesterday the champion, Antonio Tarver, decided to vacate just eight days before his planned defence against Roy Jones on 8 November in Las Vegas. Tarver still holds the World Boxing Council version and that will now be the sole offering when he meets Jones, who in March won the World Boxing Association heavyweight title.

It is understood that Tarver will have to give Jones a rematch if he wins and would mean that the winner of next Friday's bout in Sheffield would have a wait of 10 months or more before a title fight if the contest remains merely a planned eliminator for the IBF crown. Woods, who lost to Jones in September 2002, has had to wait patiently for over a year to secure the eliminator so the opportunity to fight Johnson for the vacant title is something that he has welcomed.

However, the IBF's fees for a proper world title, which are expected to be about $20,000 (£11,800), has left next week's promoters, Dennis Hobson and Robert Waterman, short of cash and if they fail to find the fee the fight will remain an eliminator for a vacant title. One option is that the pair request some extra funding from the BBC, whose plan to screen the fight just before midnight could change if it becomes a real title fight.

Woods against Johnson has received the blessing of Tarver, who insists he relinquished his title so that other fighters were not forced to wait years for a chance to fight for the championship. He said: "Jones kept me waiting three years and that is wrong. I hope that Woods and Johnson can fight for my old belt and then one day I can fight the winner."

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