Evander Holyfield's promoters scrambled yesterday to come up with a suitable date to stage the biggest heavyweight fight in boxing history, while upstart Riddick Bowe started a campaign to block Holyfield from doing anything but fight Mike Tyson or him.
Dan Duva, Holyfield's promoter, spent the day talking with executives from Caesars Palace and TVKO to reschedule the $100 million Holyfield-Tyson fight originally set for Nov. 8 that had to be postponed because of a rib injury to Tyson. He was unable to come up with any workable scenario beyond throwing out a Jan. 20 date discussed last week and tried replacing it with either Jan. 10 or 17, with the latter more likely because there are no NFL playoff games to compete with.
Jan. 10 was eliminated by Caesars because there is a major convention in Las Vegas that week and no hotel rooms are available, and the 17th is a problem because the following day is a pay-per-view Wrestlemania event that could threaten the fight's pay-per-view audience.
Duva is also considering a Holyfield title defense against someone other than Tyson on HBO on either Nov. 23 or 30, with the Nov. 8 date used for a "Night of the Young Heavyweights" card on TVKO featuring Bowe, Lennox Lewis and Michael Moorer, all of whom were listed on the original Tyson-Holyfield undercard.
That venture would be an attempt to placate both Caesars Palace, which has a $13 million live gate sold for Tyson-Holyfield, and TVKO. But Duva also must placate Holyfield, who continues to insist he does not want to fight outdoors in January (when Las Vegas temperature can fall to the 30s) and would prefer a November fight for which he has already been training.
Heavyweights such as World Boxing Organization champion Ray Mercer, South African contender Pierre Coetzer and Alex Garcia are being considered as possible opponents for a November fight, which has raised the ire of Bowe's manager, Rock Newman.
"If a Tyson fight is not going to take place and Holyfield is going to defend, we are the mandatory challenger," Newman insisted.
Citing the World Boxing Council rulebook, Newman said Bowe would be next in line because he was the No. 2 WBC contender and the Tyson-Holyfield fight was to be fought under WBC auspices. He threatened legal action to block Holyfield from fighting anyone but Tyson or Bowe.
However, Duva said Tyson-Holyfield still could come off in January, in which case there would be no interim title defense, or he could decide to wait until after Tyson faces a Jan. 27 rape trial, in which case "we would take our chances the fight will never happen. We'll try to make a decision by tomorrow."
As for Bowe, neither Holyfield nor Duva seems inclined to go in his direction, leaving Newman threatening legal action.