Bernard Hopkins isn't going out in his hometown of Philadelphia, like many thought he would.
"But he'll be close enough to walk home," said Tampa's Antonio Tarver, who said Monday the two will fight in Atlantic City on June 10 on HBO pay-per-view.
While the decision to fight Hopkins has left some scratching their heads, considering the former middleweight champion has lost his past two fights against Jermain Taylor and is, well, a middleweight, Tarver makes no apologies.
At 37, he says he is past the stage in his career where he needs to fight top up-and-coming competitors for a smaller payday when HBO is willing to pay him millions to take on Hopkins.
"I'm 37, I don't have time to be risking everything and taking chances for no pay," said Tarver, still considered the undisputed light heavyweight champion. "On my way up, I got no pay. I took shorts the whole way here. I'm not going to fight these young guys who have nothing to lose and I don't even get paid for it.
"I'm not going to leave any money on the table. This fight makes sense."
One thing is certain: the buildup to this fight should be epic.
Tarver is the best talker in the game, and Hopkins, while not as eloquent, is right behind him. Next to a Tarver-James Toneymatch-up, there are few pairings that hold such potential for entertainment.
"I finally have a dance partner," said Tarver, who was extremely frustrated with Roy Jones Jr.'s lack of participation in hyping their three fights, especially the last one in Tampa.
After getting turned down by Mike Tyson and not drawing the interest of any heavyweights, Tarver will fight Hopkins at the familiar 175 pounds. He still hopes to talk Toney into a fight, and is content trying to add legendary fighters to his ledger rather than title holders in his weight class.
"I'm the legend killer," Tarver said. "That's my new moniker. Like Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins had his era and now he's got to go. Personally, I think he's nuts for even thinking he can beat me. But I'm not going to talk him out of (trying)."
SEE JEFF FIGHT: Showtime On Demand is replaying Jeff Lacy 's recent destruction of Scott Pemberton, as well as Joe Calzaghe's victory over Byron Mitchell. Both fights were second-round knockouts for the two guys, Lacy and Calzaghe, who will meet March 4 in Manchester, England.
Lacy (21-0, 17 KOs), the IBF super-middleweight champ out of St. Petersburg, is leaving Friday in preparation for the fight. His camp will be in London for a few days before moving to Manchester.
Fighting overseas and adapting to a different time zone is nothing for new for Lacy. He fought in a number of countries as an amateur, and has won professionally in Wales and also once in the arena where he'll meet Calzaghe.
COMING UP: If you paid for last week's pay-per-view featuring Antonio Margarito knocking out Manuel Gomez in 74 seconds, shame on you. You should have saved up for this week's pay-per-view featuring Shane Mosley against Fernando Vargas. A lot is at stake for both. Mosley hasn't looked the same since St. Petersburg's Winky Wright beat him twice, and Vargas has been unimpressive as well. Vargas may have a lot more to lose Saturday on HBO pay-per-view, however, like a rumored fight in the fall against Oscar De La Hoya.
WRIGHT FIGHT: Gary Shaw and Lou DiBella are still negotiating with possible sites willing to hold the Wright-Taylor fight and expect a decision within days. Though Las Vegas remains a big player, don't be surprised to see it land in Memphis, which would love to have it due to the proximity to Taylor's hometown of Little Rock, Ark. Taylor's fan base is one of the best in boxing and traveled all the way to Las Vegas in droves to see him beat Hopkins twice.