Tyson to wait: Holyfield fighting another foe first

October 23, 1991|By Alan Goldstein

After an all-day meeting in New York between promoters Dan Duva and Don King reached an impasse over a new date for the postponed Nov. 8 Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson title fight in Las Vegas, Tyson was told to wait his turn for a chance to regain his crown from undisputed champion Evander Holyfield.

Duva said Holyfield will defend his title against a yet-unnamed opponent on an unspecified date at a site to be determined. However, Duva did say the bout, to be announced in a few days, would be on Home Box Office rather than pay-per-view.

The Associated Press reported that the dates of Nov. 23 or Nov. 30 and the sites of Atlanta -- Holyfield's hometown -- or Atlantic City, N.J., have been mentioned by the champion's management.

It seems highly unlikely Holyfield, on such short notice, would risk his crown against such leading contenders such as Riddick Bowe, Donovan "Razor" Ruddock or Lennox Lewis, preferring to build these opponents into multimillion-dollar matches.

A journeyman along the lines of Renaldo Snipes, Carl "The Truth" Williams or Alex Garcia would appear a more likely choice in a low-risk bout with Tyson waiting in the wings. Holyfield had been guaranteed $30 million and Tyson $15 million for their fight.

It is possible that Tyson, who forced the postponement when he suffered a rib injury in a sparring session Oct. 8 and aggravated it a few days later doing sit-ups, never will challenge Holyfield or fight again. He faces a Jan. 27 trial in Indianapolis for the alleged rape of a teen-age beauty pageant contestant.

After Las Vegas orthopedist Gerald Higgins estimated it would be six to eight weeks before Tyson could resume full-scale training, King made a strong effort to rearrange the Holyfield fight for the week of Jan. 20.

This date proved unattractive to Holyfield, who objected to fighting outdoors at Caesars Palace in what was likely to be cold weather.

Sugar Ray Leonard was forced to wear a blanket between rounds to fight off the desert chill when he opened the neighboring Mirage Hotel, Dec. 7, 1989, with his third fight against Roberto Duran.

"There was some talk of building a bubble over the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace," said Kathy Duva, wife of Dan Duva and spokeswoman for Main Events Inc. "But the real issue here is why Evander, as champion, should have to accommodate Tyson because of his pending trial.

"We were insured for this first postponement, but we'd be left with a big financial loss if Tyson reinjured himself or decided he wasn't ready to fight in January."

There were also discussions with Rich Rose, sports director for Caesars World, over the possibility of shifting the fight indoors to UNLV's Thomas and Mack Arena. Rose, whose company paid $11 million to hold the fight at Caesars Palace, quashed that idea.

As Seth Abraham, president of pay-per-view service TVKO, said: "That's a long way for the dice to travel. The dice would get cold. They're paying $11 million; why should they share the gamblers with the other casinos?"

If Tyson is found innocent of the rape charge, Duva reportedly was offering him a March title date to oppose Holyfield. Tyson is ranked No. 1 and the mandatory challenger by the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association, but his legal problems will permit Holyfield to meet a lower-ranked contender.

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