NEW YORK - Now the boxing world agrees: Buster Douglas is the heavyweight champion. And there apparently is agreement on another front: His first challenger will be Mike Tyson.
Douglas-Tyson II came close to clearing the final hurdle Tuesday when Evander Holyfield's manager, Ken Sanders, said in Atlanta that his boxer probably would step aside to allow the rematch.
Billionaire developer Donald Trump says Douglas-Tyson II will be June 18 in Atlantic City, N.J., although Douglas has not signed a contract.
Douglas learned hours earlier that he was undisputed champion when the World Boxing Association became the last of the sport's three major governing bodies to recognize his 10th-round knockout of Tyson on Saturday night in Tokyo.
"We don't have a rematch now," Don King, Tyson's promoter and adviser, said Tuesday at a news conference. "We're trying to get one.
The first thing we have to do is get a rematch. As you know, the catching comes before the hanging."
King said he was negotiating with representatives of Douglas and Holyfield to work out an agreement.
Tyson, who appeared with King, said his loss was "a temporary, minor setback. I don't take it to heart. I'll be the champion again.
I'm still one of the best fighters in the world and when the rematch comes I'll prove it."
Holyfield, as the No. 1-ranked contender, was the mandatory challenger to Douglas' first defense. But he has decided to wait for Tyson-Douglas II.
"We've been approached to make a deal, by Don King, to step aside and make way for the rematch," Sanders said. "We're waiting for the contract from him. If it's what they said it would be, we probably would do it."
Sanders said Holyfield would fight a tuneup on the undercard, then fight the Tyson-Douglas winner in September or October.
In his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, Douglas said the main thing for him "is that I am now looked upon as the heavyweight champion of the world. It was a lifelong dream come true, and I thank God for that."
The International Boxing Federation recognized Douglas as champion immediately, and the World Boxing Council extended recognition Monday night.
"I never asked anybody to change the decision," King said. "We just want a first shot at a rematch."
Tuesday's editions of the New York Times quoted Trump as saying: "We made a deal a little while ago" to host the Tyson-Douglas rematch. The fight could be held at Trump's Taj Mahal, scheduled for completion this spring.
Holyfield had a contract with Trump, Dan Duva and King to fight Tyson for the heavyweight championship in Atlantic City on the same date, but Tyson no longer has the belts. So, Holyfield no longer has a contract. He does, however, have the right as the No. 1 contender to the next title shot, which he apparently will waive.
Trump vice president Gary Selesner said Holyfield would fight for $3-million. He would have gotten $12-million for a Tyson fight.
Duva, president of Main Events-Monitor, which had the promotional contract with Holyfield for a Tyson fight, said nothing was firm yet, however.
Douglas said while he's not opposed to fighting Tyson again, he hadn't signed anything yet.
"I was upset about the fact that I wasn't looked upon as the total, undisputed heavyweight champion, and now it seems like that's been cleared up," Douglas said. "As far as the rest of it, that's still up in the air."
Tuesday morning, WBA legal counsel James Binns called the Associated Press to say: "The WBA has declared Buster Douglas the champion. It's just upon reflection that this is the right decision."
WBC president Jose Sulaiman said he realized on a flight from Japan to Los Angeles that he had made a mistake in not immediately recognizing Douglas as champion and ruling on any protests later. He said he called various WBC officials upon arriving in Los Angeles on Monday and they all agreed Douglas should be declared champion.
"I felt embarrassed to Buster Douglas," Sulaiman said. "I felt it was not fair to the kid that I had withheld my opinion about the result of the fight."
The forgotten man in this scenario is George Foreman, the comeback king also looking for a title shot at age 41. His promoter, Bob Arum, has said he would like to see Foreman fight Holyfield.
Arum, however, said it wouldn't "make sense" for Holyfield to fight Foreman on the Tyson-Douglas undercard.
King started the controversy over Douglas' knockout by protesting that referee Octavio Meyran took too long in counting over Douglas when he was knocked down in the eighth round. After the fight, Meyran said he had mistakenly taken up the timekeeper's count three seconds too late.
On Tuesday, however, the referee told Mexican television: "Douglas won the championship fair and square. The rules don't say you have to look to the timekeeper. Of course, you can look for his help."