LAS VEGAS -- Thanks for showing up, Buster. No, it wasn't an upset. It wasn't shocking. If you walk into a boxing ring flabby of mind and body as "Buster" Douglas was Thursday night to face a man who has worked and trained and turned his body into a weapon as Evander Holyfield had, the result is inevitable.

Evander Holyfield knocked James "The Bust" Douglas on his keister. Referee Mills Lane could have counted to 20 and Douglas wouldn't have gotten up. Mike Tyson said it best this week: "Buster Douglas quit once {against Tony Tucker} and he'll quit again."

Douglas's defense of his heavyweight championship lasted seven minutes 10 seconds. Now we know for sure, absolutely and beyond a shadow of a doubt, that his victory over Tyson in February was one of the great flukes in sports history.

The champion walked in the ring at 246 pounds, his flabby chest jiggling all over the place. For $24 million, you would think he could get himself in good enough shape to defend his title. Heck, you can even buy a couple of memberships to Holiday Spa for less than that.

Somebody asked Douglas if he was embarrassed by this non-performance. The ex-champ said he wasn't. Well, he should be, particularly after taking $24 million, to step on a scale at 246 pounds. Other boxers understand when somebody gets knocked out. But the good ones, the ones with heart, don't understand when a guy comes into a ring as ill-prepared as Douglas was. Douglas was dismissed so quickly he could have ordered a Domino's pizza and been back in his dressing room before it was delivered.

Michael Nunn told the Boston Globe's Ron Borges: "If he didn't want to fight, he could at least have come out in the first round and thrown a bunch of punches so that people thought he did. He crumpled to the canvas like a wrapper from a Big Mac. He should be ashamed of himself."

None of this is to discredit Holyfield's one-punch demolition. Some of us weren't fooled by all this misguided talk about the bigger man, Douglas, having an advantage. Holyfield is no midget. If a 208-pound man hits you with a clean, unobstructed shot on the chin when you're leaning forward, you are going to be knocked out.

Holyfield said he didn't expect to win by a knockout so early, that his plan was to work very quickly, set a fast pace and hope Mr. Doughnut couldn't keep up with him.

But Plan A went out the window when Douglas tried a wild, right-handed uppercut from outside. Douglas, you might recall, had a lot of success with inside uppercuts against Tyson. But when you throw inside, you've got a good chance to cover up, or get into a clinch if you miss. When Douglas missed this uppercut (by about a foot), both feet moved. He was so off balance he couldn't have protected himself from a welterweight. One of the first things you learn when you lace up the gloves is not to lead with a right hand from a distance.

Holyfield and his trainers, J.D. McCauley and Lou Duva, had worked on just such a situation many, many times during training camp. If Douglas missed an outside hook, they lectured, rip his head off with the right hand. Boom! Just like they'd promised. Holyfield thought he might need a second punch. Please.

Douglas said he wanted to "get some rounds under my belt to get my rhythm going. . . . " He knows he will be questioned over and over again about not getting up. Lane was quoted in the post-fight news conference as saying he thought Douglas could have gotten up.

"By the time I tried to pick up the count, it was over," Douglas said. Actually, it was over back when he continued to pick up those pizza boxes instead of the jump rope.

"I was ready to fight," Douglas protested when asked why he wasn't as good Thursday as he was against Tyson in February. "Trying to establish command of the fight was difficult. It was a matter of getting my mechanics to work accordingly. . . . If I could have gotten up, I would have. Evander was a better man and he came to fight."

So, while Douglas contemplates the loss of $60 million or so, which is what he would have made as champion for two more bouts, Holyfield is apparently set to fight 42-year-old George Foreman. Bob Lee of the International Boxing Federation said his organization would not circumvent any contract the Duvas had worked out with Foreman for a fight in March or April of 1991.

Holyfield easily could lose to Foreman. He could lose to Tyson. He could get knocked out by either fighter. But Holyfield won't walk into a ring with his trunks pulled up over his belly. Holyfield comes to fight. Thursday, it was a good thing one fighter did.