LAS VEGAS -- Easy come, easy go!
Just eight months after he won the heavyweight championship of the planet in an upset of mammoth proportions, Buster Douglas turned it in with little more than a whimper last night.
After seven minutes and 10 seconds of posturing, Douglas did get hit by a good punch from Evander Holyfield, a short, crisp right cross. However, it did not appear to be a punch that would end a title fight so abruptly.
Nothing preceded it. It was just a reflex shot from a guy many think doesn't carry the whack of a true heavyweight. Now that Holyfield is champion, they might have to change their thinking.
The man closest to the action, referee Mills Lane, thought Douglas could have gotten up. Buster said no.
"I tried to get up," he said, "I just couldn't pick up the count."
With no numbers to guide his action, why then didn't Douglas do the safe thing and assume the upright position?
Instead, he laid there, rubbing his eyes, three times. "I was trying to get focused," he explained. To give an indication of what a bad night it was for the Columbus, Ohio, native, he partially thumbed himself while brushing his mitts across his eyes.
Veteran trainer Eddie Futch, at ringside, labeled Douglas' failure to arise as "shameful."
Both men were quick into the interview area afterward, unmarked and looking none the worst for their wear.
The victory didn't require that much from Holyfield, but he denied it was "an easy fight at all, because the preparation
figures in there and I work very hard for all my fights."
Would that Buster Douglas, who astounded everyone by weighing in at 246 pounds the day before, could say the same thing.
Rare is it when a man who finishes second in a two-man competition takes the outcome so easily.
"No, I'm not embarrassed by my performance," he said.
"Yes, losing hurts. But I attained a goal by winning the title. I just didn't attain another goal by defending successfully. That's all," he said.
Known as a fighter slow from the mark, Douglas said, "I was ready to fight and I was comfortable at my weight. I was hoping to get some rounds under my belt, get my mechanics working so I could establish true command later on."
None of his wishes came close to reality. Showing far more patience than he has flashed in any of his previous 24 pro fights, Holyfield set a fairly relaxed pace for him:
"I felt it would be to my advantage to come out and fight fast and make him keep up with my pace," said Evander. The pace was hardly cyclonic and Buster just tagged along, searching for "his rhythm."
Known as a man who had to beat relentlessly on the 20 men he had knocked out previously, this was Holyfield's first one-hitter.
"It never bothered me, people saying I don't have a shot. I feel if I hit anyone with a clean punch, I'll get him out of there."
Clean? This one was immaculate. And the situation was halfway expected, according to Holyfield's co-trainer Lou Duva.
"Buster throws two uppercuts," said Duva. "The one where he ducks down and comes on the inside, Evander was told to slip right and throw the left hook. The one where Douglas stands up and throws the punch outside, Evander rocks back and throws the right hand. That's what [co-trainer] Georgie Benton taught him and that's what he did."
The sellout crowd of 16,100 making for a live gate of about $9.5 million was more than ready for big doings after a fireworks display second to none immediately prior to the main event.
Fireworks, it seems, is the Mirage Hotel's trademark accompanying a fight, something that makes the multitudes who have sat and suffered through Caesars Palace introductions of celebrities next door very happy.
As is the case at all these affairs, barely had Holyfield wiped the sweat from his brow when the question of his future plans hit him harder than Buster was able to do.
"George Foreman is next, sometime in March or April of 1991," butted in Holyfield promoter Dan Duva, confirming a rumor that has been making the rounds for months. "As for Mike Tyson, he'll eventually get a shot, but he has to get in line like everyone else."
It was about a week ago, the organizations that bless these events -- the WBA, WBC and IBF -- all decreed that the victor would have Tyson as a mandatory defense within 120 days. Ah, the fine old hand of Don King.
"Forget it," said Mickey Duff, British promoter and wise old owl. "Holyfield will fight Foreman and all those associations will be very nervous to do anything."
After all, Evander Holyfield has the belt and, after getting the run-around for two years, his people probably know how to get their way by now.
One more quote from Douglas, a good man who unexpectedly broke the bank at Monte Carlo eight months ago: "I'd like to thank Evander Holyfield for a good fight."