If everything goes according to Don King's master plan, the flamboyant fight promoter could regain complete control of the heavyweight division by the spring of 1995.
King, who lost his dominating position in professional boxing when Mike Tyson was upset by Buster Douglas in Tokyo four years ago, regained one piece of the heavyweight puzzle in September when Oliver McCall, a 4-1 underdog, knocked out previously unbeaten World Boxing Council champion Lennox Lewis of England in two rounds.
McCall was scheduled to make his first title defense against former champion Larry Holmes on Jan. 21. The fight was pushed back to Feb. 18, and has now been rescheduled for April 8, at a yet undetermined site.
"We felt that having 90 days instead of 60 or 70 would be a lot more helpful in selling a pay-per-view event," said Jay Larkin, president of Showtime. "We couldn't go in March because HBO has something scheduled every week."
While McCall might seek an exhibition bout to keep in shape, Holmes will keep his eye on the crown.
"Larry will wait as long as it takes," said Holmes' spokesman, Dick Lovell. "At 45, he wants one more shot at the title."
The other two parts of the heavyweight title belong to George Foreman, who stunned the boxing world by knocking out Michael Moorer last month to claim the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation crowns.
The winner of the Moorer-Foreman match had agreed to make top- ranked Tony Tucker his next fight. But Foreman, who turns 46 on Jan. 10, reportedly is going to pass over Tucker in favor of a February match against Lou Saverese, who is unranked, unbeaten, untested and virtually unknown.
If the IBF and WBA make good on their threat to strip Foreman of his titles, King would be the big winner. He owns promotional rights to both Tucker and No. 2-ranked Bruce Seldon, who likely would fight for the vacated title.
Adding to the intrigue, Tyson is expected to complete his three-year sentence for rape May 7.
Tyson has remained loyal to King, who brought him Christmas cheer with a visit yesterday to the Indiana prison housing the former champ.
"Tyson can make millions fighting anybody, that's how hungry the public is to see him," said King's matchmaker, Al Braverman.
"We don't have to rush him into fights against contenders. I'd prefer seeing Tyson make a world tour, like Muhammad Ali did when he was champion, fighting guys like Brian London, Karl Mildenberger and Jean Pierre Coopman."
There is one possible glitch in King's heavyweight scenario. His entire boxing empire is threatened by his pending trial for insurance fraud. Originally, the trial was to begin in New York next month, but federal investigators reportedly now have pushed it back to May.
King already has suffered a setback. The New Jersey Boxing Commission will not allow him to stage fights in Atlantic City because of his indictment.
While waiting for the heavyweight situation to evolve, King has concentrated on promoting his other fighters, including Julio Cesar Chavez, Terry Norris, Mike McCallum, Felix Trinidad and Gerald McClellan.
One of his current projects is finding a site for a proposed match between Baltimore's Vincent Pettway and Mount Airy's Simon Brown for Pettway's IBF junior-middleweight title. USAir Arena chairman Abe Pollin has expressed interest in staging the fight.