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Eddie Futch, at 79 one of the most respected trainers in the country, was appalled as he watched Douglas spread out on the Mirage mat. Futch's career goes back to the days of Louis, a close friend with whom he sparred as a welterweight to sharpen Louis's speed. "When he could catch me," Futch has said, "then Joe knew he was ready." Now Futch said, "I thought Buster Douglas was disgraceful tonight."
Choosing his words carefully, almost painfully, because he is a kind man, Futch went on: "He allowed himself to get into such poor condition, he had nothing. His judgment of distance, his timing—he had no snap. He landed just one good punch in three rounds. The things he did—rubbing his face and looking at his gloves to see if there was blood—I'm sure he was perfectly aware of what was going on. In my opinion, he could have got up in time. But he chose not to do so, so maybe he had his own reasons."
Equally damning was Wynn's suggestion that in the future all fights should be winner-take-all to ensure an honest effort. In Douglas, Wynn thought he had an American folk hero, to whom he had promised $31 million to fight Tyson in a rematch. What he got was the Pillsbury Doughboy, who had gotten lucky against a gunfighter who, for one night, forgot to load his weapons.
Financially, if not artistically, the fight fared well. Of the Mirage's 16,128 seats, priced to generate $10.5 million, only 500 were unoccupied. The final tally won't be in for at least a month, but the home pay-per-view orders—at an average of $35 per home—were heading toward one million in the days leading up to the fight. Closed-circuit telecasts will net about $1.5 million. Showtime, which paid $2.1 million for the delayed broadcast, will air the fight twice this week.
"I don't want to talk about any plusses now," says Wynn, who spent $40 million promoting the bout and who took Douglas's showing as a personal affront. "I was very disappointed by the effort of the champion. In the end, whether it is a light or a hotel, the most important thing is keeping a promise, and when it comes down to James Douglas's performance, I don't believe the fight kept the promise."
Still buoyed by his easy win, Holyfield returned to his hotel room from Botany's and watched television until morning. Without sleeping, he flew to Los Angeles at 2 p.m. on Friday in Wynn's personal jet. His first stop was Paramount studios for an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. A staffer named Velda Fennell took the champion in hand and led him to a room where a makeup artist dabbed at him with assorted powders for five minutes. En route back to the studio, Fennell asked him, "Do you need any hair?"
"I beg your pardon?" said a startled Holyfield.
"Oh, that's industry chat," she said. "I mean, Do you need anything done with your hair?"
Holyfield declined with a laugh. Nearby, Anthony Williams, a friend of Holy-field's from Atlanta, allowed that the champ's reaction probably had to do with his being self-conscious about an incipient bald spot at the top of his head.
After the taping, Holyfield was beset by autograph seekers. Deeply religious, he signed his name and wrote Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me"). Then Holyfield danced out of the studio to the music being played on the set.