LAKE TAHOE, Nev. -- Evander Holyfield could retire as soon as he meets Mike Tyson in the most anticipated heavyweight bout in more than 20 years -- and don't laugh. We're dealing with a heavyweight champion who feels "moral obligations" to George Foreman for leaving the 43-year-old preacher on the outside.
Holyfield, in fact, vetoed the Nov. 8 showdown for several hours before joining with Tyson. Make no mistake, it was Holyfield and Tyson above all others who made this fight. And now Holyfield could walk away when it is over.
"It's a possibility," agreed Dan Duva, Holyfield's promoter, shortly after arriving in Nevada yesterday.
Add it up. Win or lose, Holyfield will have made at least $58 million in the last 54 weeks -- $8 million as the challenger to James "Buster" Douglas last Oct. 25, $20 million for handily outpointing Foreman on April 19 and a guaranteed $30 million (and possibly as much as $34 million) for meeting Tyson. More than a month ago, he told Duva that a Tyson fight would give "me more money than I'll ever need in my life." By defeating Tyson, there would be no challenging mountains to climb, either.
"But knowing Evander, he'd retire only if he wins," said Duva. "If he loses to Tyson, and I don't think he will, there's no way he'd quit. He's too much of a competitor.
"If he does retire, I wouldn't try and talk him out of it, but I wouldn't recommend it, either. He's such a great heavyweight champion, he wears the crown so well. But if he did, I would shake his hand and say, 'Thanks for the ride.' "
Tyson was obviously the motivating force for promoter Don King to accept what had been an unacceptable $ 15 million guarantee.Kathy Duva said, " This time,he held a gun to King's head,not a toaster."
But Holyfield also wanted the bout,though he had " qualms" about hurting Foreman, whom he believed " stood up for me" by resisting King's $ 20 million offer to fight Tyson.
Foreman's rep, Ron Weathers, told HBO yesterday the Sept. 7 date with Boone Pultz was still on, but the cable-TV company's boxing boss, Ross Greenburg, said he'd have to watch Pultz tapes today to approve "though it really doesn't matter too much who George fights."
TVKO pay-per-view suggested retail price probably will be usual $40 ... Love King saying he "snatched victory from jaws of defeat." Like Saddam Hussein? Fact is, Duva confided last week that $15 million was the first offer and he probably would have gone up to $18 million.
Tonight Tony Lopez doesn't plan a lot of skillful boxing when he defends his IBF junior lightweight title against Lupe Gutierrez. He just intends to pound out a victory that could set the stage for some bigger paydays.
"I want to do something spectacular," he said. "I don't know what it is, but I want to do something spectacular in 1992. Maybe I'll move up in weight. Being champion is fine and dandy, but I want to do something different."
Lopez, 36-2-1 with 24 knockouts, said he had no trouble shedding the weight he traditionally gains between fights to make the 130-pound limit, but feels he might be more comfortable fighting in a heavier division.