Tampa's Antonio Tarver and Chad Dawson are set to meet Oct. 11, with Showtime officially announcing the long-awaited fight a day after Dawson pulled out of his mandatory defense.
By surrendering his WBC belt (he was set to defend in Romania), Dawson (26-0, 17 knockouts) helped pave the way for a matchup that will determine the best light heavyweight in the world.
Both fighters won on the same card in Tampa in April. Dawson struggled with Glen Johnson and Tarver (27-4, 19 KOs) had an easy time taking the IBF title from Clinton Woods.
The winners jawed at the postfight news conference, and vowed to face each other as soon as possible.
Dawson, 26, has pursued Tarver for more than a year.
Tarver, 39, is one of two Tampa champions featured in main events on Showtime in the coming months — Nate Campbell, the WBA/WBO/IBF lightweight champ, defends Sept. 13 against Joan Guzman.
Campbell is 32-5 with 22 knockouts.
The venues for both fights are still being determined.