NEW YORK -- The Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson fight officially has been knocked out for January by a combination of Tyson's sore ribs, Holyfield's cold feet, the World Wrestling Federation and a horde of Las Vegas conventioneers.
That, in a nutshell, is why the fate of the Holyfield-Tyson fight rests in the hands of an Indianapolis jury -- unless Tyson's legal team can find a way to get his rape trial pushed back from its scheduled Jan. 27 starting date.
After several hours of heated meetings at the Manhattan offices of Home Box Office, all parties -- Holyfield promoter Dan Duva and manager Shelly Finkel, Don King and his lawyer, Bob Hirth, and executives of TVKO and Caesars Palace -- agreed to disagree on a suitable January date for the fight, which was postponed from its original Nov. 8 date because of a rib injury suffered by Tyson.
"It's not our fault Tyson got indicted, and it's not our fault Tyson got hurt," said Lou DiBella, an attorney for TVKO, which was underwriting most of the $45 million in purses for the fight and providing the pay-per-view telecast.
Duva indicated Holyfield will fight in late November against an opponent to be decided. Speculation is that it would be in Atlanta, possibly Nov. 23 or Nov. 30. Opponents mentioned include Ray Mercer, former champion Larry Holmes and journeyman Alex Garcia.
The Holyfield-Tyson talks stalemated when it became apparent that none of three proposed dates in January -- the 10th, 17th or 20th -- were acceptable to both TVKO and Caesars. The first two were preferred by TVKO, but not by Caesars because of an annual electronics convention that uses up hotel space that week.
And the 20th was unacceptable to TVKO, which feared being sandwiched between "The Royal Rumble," a WWF pay-per-view event two days earlier, and the Super Bowl on Jan. 26.
"There was a lot of yelling and screaming in that room," said TVKO's Mark Taffett. At one point, King outraged the Holyfield camp and TVKO by offering that Tyson would be available "any day after Dec. 13." On Saturday, Dr. Gerald L. Higgins said Tyson would need six to eight weeks of healing time, and to force him to fight sooner would be "a moral compromise."
King's proposal was immediately rejected.