Don King, promoter of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, said there will be no Buster Douglas-Tyson rematch.
"Absolutely not," King said, commenting on Douglas' loss of the heavyweight title to Evander Holyfield Thursday night.
"If Douglas had given Holyfield a great fight, and gone out like a tiger and lost and everyone had said: 'Wow, what a fight!' then sure, I would've made that fight right away, while we wait for a shot at Holyfield or (George) Foreman.
"But after that disgraceful exhibition Thursday, who would want to see Buster fight anybody now?"
Had Douglas beaten Holyfield, King and Mirage president Steve Wynn would have co-promoted Douglas-Tyson II.
Tyson will fight Alex Stewart Dec. 8 in Atlantic City. King said that if Tyson wins he would not take another fight until he meets the Holyfield-Foreman winner.
Why did the Holyfield camp want a Foreman fight before one against Tyson?
"Because Foreman isn't getting any younger (he's 42), and also we agreed to the fight before the Douglas fight and also because we feel Evander would win and that that would make a Holyfield-Tyson fight that much bigger," said Shelly Finkel, Holyfield's adviser.
King, who for the first time since 1973 does not control at least a piece of the heavyweight championship, congratulated his rival, Dan Duva, Holyfield's promoter, and thus arguably now the most powerful man in boxing.
"I congratulate Dan and Lou (Dan's father, Lou Duva, Holyfield's trainer) and also Evander Holyfield, who although he is not a charismatic fighter, came in at peak condition. But really, he didn't even break a sweat. What he did was knock out a sumo wrestler. I think that fight hurt boxing.
"Because of what Buster did, I'm not sure the Holyfield-Foreman fight is going to be the box office smash people think . . . I'm not sure the public will buy two blimps in a row."
Nonetheless, King picks Foreman to win a fight against Holyfield.
"I give Foreman a great chance, because he can really punch and Holyfield attracts punches like a nail attracts a hammer," King said. "If George busts Holyfield on the chops with one of those uppercuts, it's goodby, Evander."
Holyfield-Foreman, with $19 million going to Holyfield and $12.5 to Foreman, is expected to be a Las Vegas fight next spring. King released letters from three of boxing's world governing bodies last week indicating they supported Tyson's bid to be Holyfield's first challenger. But Saturday, he said he would not legally challenge Holyfield-Foreman.
And the future for Douglas?
"Buster quit, just like a dog barking at the moon," King said of Douglas' performance against Holyfield.
"What Buster did Thursday night--that was normal for Buster Douglas. I carried Buster on my back for half his career and all he did except for the day he beat Mike Tyson in Tokyo was quit on me. So what the world saw Thursday wasn't something unusual.
"See, Mike knew Buster had a history of quitting when he got hurt, so he slackened off in training and came in for that Tokyo fight in the worst shape of his life. But for once, Buster showed up in great shape.
"To go down like that from one Holyfield punch and not even try to get up . . . his eyes were open, looking around. He was conscious of everything going on. That was the real Buster Douglas, believe me."
Douglas was still in Las Vegas Sunday, not taking calls. His manager, John Johnson, wouldn't respond directly to King's criticism, but acknowledged from his home in Columbus, Ohio, that his fighter was not in prime shape Thursday.
"I don't think Buster quit, he just got hit with a great shot," he said. "Conditioning-wise, he was not as prepared as he should have been. Holyfield surprised all of us by coming out boxing and not putting a lot of pressure on Buster.
"I have no idea if Buster wants to fight again. I still feel he can beat them all, he's got great tools. We accomplished a lot, but not all we should have."