ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- In a flash, Mike Tyson transformed a childhood vision into reality.
'I've known Larry Holmes' style for years,' Tyson said Friday night after ending Holmes' comeback attempt in the fourth round with three right-hook knockdowns.
As a 13-year-old, Tyson entered into the tuteledge of the late trainer Cus D'Amato, and his first lesson was to study then-champion Larry Holmes. Eight years later, he put what could be -- should be -- the final punctuation to Holmes' career.
'I wasn't worried about him at all,' Tyson said of the 38-year-old former champ, who suffered the first knockout of his 15-year professional career. 'I just saw the opening. Even when he was champion, he was vulnerable to the right hand. He kept his left hand low, and I threw my right.'
And Holmes hit he canvas.
'I knew he wasn't hurt bad,' said Tyson, 21, who last year became the youngest heavyweight champion. 'I saw in his face he was still trying to get up. I knew when I knocked him down the first time, it was over. He wasn't going to finish the round.'
Following the fight, Tyson's manager, Bill Cayton, announced the champion's next bout, a March 21 defense against Tony Tubbs at Tokyo. The only serious threat to Tyson's reign, however, remained in limbo.
Michael Spinks, who took Holmes' International Boxing Federation championship Sept. 21, 1985, watched at ringside as Tyson demolished another opponent. A Tyson-Spinks matchup is on hold while promotors Butch Lewis and Don King maintain a standoff.
'I'm taking all challengers,' Tyson proclaimed after the bout. 'All the fighters out there who say Tyson isn't that good, keep coming to the fights and get lessons.'
Holmes, who fell to 48-3, was paid $3.1 million while Tyson earned about $5 million and ran his record to 33-0 with 29 knockouts.
Holmes was disapointed, but far from disgusted. Minutes after reaching his dressing room, he was joking, and made no excuses.
'My plan was working,' Holmes told UPI in his dressing room after failing to become the oldest heavyweight champion in history. 'He hit me with the same punch he hit (Trevor) Berbick, a right hook.
'Did I look funny on the floor?'
Former champions knocked out in comeback attempts are more pathetic than funny, yet Tyson gave Holmes his due in what ammounted to a epitaph.
'In his day,' Tyson said, 'he was the best of our time.'
Unless a match is made against Spinks, there seems no obstacle to Tyson's becoming the dominant heavyweight of his era.
'We've gone on record,' Cayton said, 'without Mike Spinks, Mike Tyson will still make $50 million this year. We are willing to fight Michael Spinks. The terms and conditions have to be worked out with Butch Lewis.'
Lewis, Spinks' promotor, insists on involvement in the production, while King, who controls Tyson's career, demands sole rights.
'They're sending up a smokescreen to buy time,' Lewis said. 'They act like they don't even walk on the ground like everybody else. Their attitude is that they're above everyone. It's better for me to die on my feet than live on my knees.'
Unless someone changes, the only meaningful fight on Tyson's horizon will not come about.