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Duva had to meet with the Tyson camp to show that he was at least trying to deal with the challenger. Duva also assured Arum that while Holyfield's camp might prefer a Tyson fight to a Foreman rematch, it would take one only if King and Tyson agreed to the $15 million package.
At 6:30 p.m., Duva, Finkel and lawyer Pat English met with King and his lawyer, Bob Hirth, at the Parker Meridien Hotel. According to Duva, King asked for $25 million for Tyson. "He spoke for an hour on the history of the heavyweight division and on why Tyson deserved more money," says Duva. When King was done, Duva made his offer: Duva's Main Events promotions would pay Tyson $15 million for a November fight or $20 million for an April 1992 fight, with both Tyson and Holyfield allowed one bout in the interim.
King, Hirth and Home left the room for several minutes. When they returned, King said, "We'll take the $15 million," but he also asked for a share of the profits exceeding $45 million.
Duva, Finkel and English retired to nearby Mickey Mantle's restaurant to consider their response over pasta and salad. Duva was convinced that King would reject their counteroffer. But he knew that if King didn't reject it, and Holyfield instead accepted a Foreman fight, "the fallout in the press would be terrible." Holyfield would be accused of ducking Tyson and would almost certainly be stripped of the WBC title.
What Duva didn't know, though, was that at about the time he and his confederates were finishing dinner, Tyson, in King's East Side town house, was telling King to "forget the money." Tyson wanted a shot at Holyfield.
At midnight Finkel and Jesse Spikes, an attorney who also represents Holyfield, placed a conference call to the champion in Hawaii. They explained the situation. The final decision would be Holyfield's.
Though Tyson had been Holyfield's first choice all along—"You can't hide from the fact that Tyson's the man," he says—Holyfield was reluctant to brush aside Foreman, who he thought had stood up for him at a time when King had "disrespected" him. "I don't want to leave him out in the cold," Holyfield told Finkel. Holyfield said he would pass up Tyson for Foreman, unless King accepted the $15 million.
"At 3 a.m. Wednesday," says Duva, "Holyfield-Tyson was off."
Duva phoned Hirth about what Holyfield had said. "Let's meet. I think I can solve [the Foreman problem]," said Hirth.
Later Wednesday morning, in an insurance move, Duva called Arum and told him he would fax him a one-page contract for Foreman to sign and return by 5 p.m. Arum agreed to wait. Duva then went to see King and Hirth at Hirth's office, and it was here that the Holyfield-Tyson deal was closed. When Duva described Holyfield's qualms about dumping Foreman, King began yelling that Foreman himself had been bluffing all along. Hirth produced what he says was a copy of the only contract King had offered Foreman. According to the contract, if Tyson beat Holyfield or won the WBC arbitration, Tyson would defend his title against Foreman before anyone else. King insisted Foreman was using the contract to exert pressure on the Holyfield camp. "Fore man didn't have the $20 million locked up," says Finkel.