ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., DEC. 7 -- To hear Evander Holyfield's management people talk, their boxer has more choices to ponder than Imelda Marcos does viewing her shoe closet.

But until one of the options available to the International Boxing Federation cruiserweight and World Boxing Association junior heavyweight champion results in a signed contract, Holyfield is in limbo.

Holyfield, a 25-year-old from Atlanta who held onto his titles with a fourth-round knockout of Dwight Muhammad Qawi Saturday night in Convention Hall, is not sure whether he will remain a cruiserweight or proceed to the more lucrative heavyweight division.

"I don't make the decision about who my next opponent will be," Holyfield (17-0, 13 knockouts) said after he drove Qawi (28-5-1) into retirement. "My promoter is in charge of that decision."

Ah, but can anyone, even from so astute a group as promoter Dan Duva, manager Ken Sanders, consultant Shelly Finkel and co-trainer Lou Duva, pick his way through the maze of contradictions Holyfield is in?

Consider the following points/counterpoints that were made by Holyfield's advisers before and after his brief night's work against Qawi.

Point: "We'd like to fight Carlos DeLeon {World Boxing Council cruiserweight champion} to unify the title," Lou Duva said last week.

Counterpoint: "Carlos DeLeon doesn't want to fight Evander," Dan Duva said. "He looks at Evander as an annuity, as a pension. He knows Evander is going to retire him, so he wants to make enough money to live on for the rest of his life. We don't think Evander Holyfield should sacrifice his earnings and give it all to Carlos DeLeon just for the sake of being able to say he's also the WBC champion."

Point: "{former light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion Michael} Spinks and {undisputed heavyweight champion Mike} Tyson is going to take too long to arrange," Lou Duva said. "The logical fight is going to be Spinks and Holyfield. Let the two of them fight and the public is going to accept them as legitimate heavyweights."

Counterpoint: "Don't hold your breath {on a Spinks-Holyfield bout}," said Dan Duva. "Michael Spinks will never fight Evander. Never."

Point: "Other than DeLeon, I don't think there's anybody {among the cruiserweights} who it would be worth Evander's while to fight," Lou Duva said.

Counterpoint: "Evander's the best cruiserweight in the world and there are plenty of people out there to challenge him," Dan Duva said.

The bottom line for Holyfield is that he must find a way to mark time before fighting Tyson.

Given Tyson's once-every-other-month schedule of title defenses, he eventually will make room on his agenda for a beefed-up Holyfield.

But how soon such a fight can be arranged is a matter of conjecture. Tim Hallmark, Holyfield's conditioning coach, said the king of the cruiserweights (who weighed 187 against Qawi) can bulk up to between 211 and 215 over a six- to nine-month period without loss of effectiveness or mobility.

Holyfield's physique conceivably could be redesigned and outfitted for a go at Tyson next summer. But a rigid weight-gain program presumably would wreak havoc with his plans if, for instance, DeLeon declares himself available for a cruiserweight unification bout. Holyfield would have to lose the weight he had put on.

Holyfield, however, said he had given more thought to the past than the future as he prepared for his second showdown with Qawi, whose WBA junior heavyweight title he had lifted on a tough, close decision on July 12, 1986.

Many experts, recalling that splendid battle, figured the second go-around would provide more of the same. But the 17 months that had passed since their first meeting had seen changes in each man's career.

Qawi, 34, was seeking a last hurrah. But from the start, Holyfield peppered away at the 5-foot-7 1/2, 190-pound Qawi with snapping left jabs and an assortment of hooks, uppercuts and right-hand leads.

"After the first round, I said this fight's over in three," Lou Duva said.

But it wasn't until the fourth that Holyfield ended it, first putting down Qawi with a left hook and, after the challenger regained his feet, finishing him off with a right cross.

Referee Randy Neumann counted out Qawi, who had not been off his feet before, at 2:30.