Oliver McCall said he isn’t looking past his fight with Larry Holmes, but he couldn’t be blamed if he took a peek past that WBC heavyweight title defense on April 8.
“A fight with Tyson is my incentive,” McCall said Thursday at a news conference to formally announce his defense against the 45-year-old Holmes at Caesars Palace, his first since he won the championship by stopping Lennox Lewis in a second-round upset Sept. 24 at London.
“Oliver will be happy to hold the title until ‘The Man’ gets out,” said Don King, who promotes McCall. “My whole effort is to get a title shot for Mike Tyson. McCall made that possible.”
Should Holmes beat McCall, King would continue to control the WBC title though promotional ties with Holmes.
“I want to win it, defend it once and get out,” Holmes said. “I’m not going to wait around for Mike Tyson.”
King said Tyson could be released from the Indiana prison where he is serving time for a rape conviction by March.
“There’s no doubt he’ll fight for me, anything else is wishful thinking,” said King in dismissing rumors that Tyson might not resume his promotional relationship with him once he is released.
King also hopes that he might have shots at the IBF and WBA titles to offer. He contends that if George Foreman defends those against anybody but the top-ranked contenders, he should be stripped. The WBA mandatory defense is due in March and the IBF mandatory is due April 5, King said.
The top two-ranked IBF contenders are Tony Tucker and Bruce Seldon, while the top four WBA contenders are Tucker, Seldon, Lionel Butler and Franz Botha. All are promoted by King.
Foreman might fight Axel Schulz of Germany in New Orleans in late April.
Holmes feels that talk about what McCall will do after April is academic.
“I still know how to fight and I still can fight,” said Holmes, a champion from 1978 to 1985. “I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”
Maybe to himself, he does.
The McCall fight will be his fourth bid to become a champion again. He lost a split decision to Michael Spinks in a bid to regain the IBF title in 1986. Then in bids for the undisputed championship, he was stopped in the fourth round by Tyson in 1988 and lost a unanimous decision to Evander Holyfield in 1992.