An Evander Holyfield-George Foreman heavyweight championship rematch appear likely for Nov. 8 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas after negotiations with former champion Mike Tyson reached an impasse, a Holyfield adviser said yesterday.
"We're very close to finalizing a deal with Foreman," said Shelly Finkel, who serves as the principal financial adviser to Dan Duva, the attorney who is Holyfield's personal promoter. "We've offered George slightly more than he received for his last fight with Evander, plus a percentage of the pay-per-view revenue."
Foreman was guaranteed $12 million for challenging Holyfield at the Atlantic City (N.J.) Convention Center on April 19. Foreman, 42, extended the unbeaten champion to the 12-round limit in losing a unanimous decision.
Tyson's promoter, Don King, had rejected a $15 million offer to fight Holyfield after Duva had won the title purse bid with a $51 million proposal that would have given $36 million -- nearly 75 percent of the bid -- to Holyfield.
King demanded $25 million for Tyson, insisting that the former champion was the bigger box-office attraction. Ultimately, the negotiations hit a roadblock over whether Duva, aligned with TVKO, or King, who commands his own boxing network, would control the pay-per-view television.
"It's a standoff," said Al Braverman, King's matchmaker. "Right now, no one is talking."
"Our $15 million offer to Tyson is more than any challenger has ever received," said Finkel, citing the previous high of $13.5 awarded to Michael Spinks three years ago for his unsuccessful title challenge of Tyson.
"We've already passed our deadline in talking with King," Finkel said. "He is not interested in negotiating a Holyfield match. He has been down in Texas trying to steal Foreman away from us."
Two days after Tyson outpointed Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in Las Vegas on June 28, King flew to Houston to woo Foreman with a $20 million offer to fight Tyson.
King's deal would net Foreman more than a Holyfield rematch, but Foreman has long been suspicious of King, and Foreman's longtime adviser, Ron Weathers, is even more distrustful of King.
Norman Henry, who launched Foreman's improbable comeback in 1987, has closer ties to King, but said yesterday that Holyfield-Foreman II is more likely than a Tyson-Foreman match.
"Actually, George feels Tyson's style makes him a much easier fight for him than Holyfield," Henry said from his Las Vegas home yesterday."Fighters like Tyson who walk into George's power are made to order for him. You saw what [Foreman] did to [former champions] Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. He treated them like rag dolls.
"George hasn't told King yes or no in regards to Tyson. I think he promised him a definite answer by Wednesday."
If King proves unsuccessful in landing either Holyfield or Foreman, Tyson, who has grown impatient in awaiting a chance to regain his heavyweight crown, will have to lower his sights.
"We have four heavyweights in mind," said Braverman. "Riddick Bowe is at the top of our list. His manager [Rock Newman] said he wants to fight Tyson. We're also talking with [Canada's] Lennox Lewis, who beat Bowe in the 1988 Olympics. Renaldo Snipes and Pierre Coetzer are also possibilities. We'd only sign Coetzer if President Bush lifts the South African sanctions."
Lewis (15-0) will be featured in a TVKO triple-header in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Friday night when he meets former champion Mike Weaver. Two other unbeaten heavyweights, WBO champion Ray Mercer and Tommy Morrison, clash in Atlantic City on Aug. 9.
Foreman will keep active by appearing on HBO on Sept. 7, for a $5 million payday against a yet-unnamed opponent. Journeymen Art Tucker and Alex Stewart are possible rivals. The match could be staged in Hong Kong or Taiwan.
"George always liked exotic sites," said Henry. "He fought Norton in Venezuela, Frazier in Jamaica, Joe Roman in Tokyo and Muhammad Ali in Zaire. He's a world traveler."
Foreman could not be reached for comment last night.