COLUMBUS, OHIO, DEC. 11 -- A year ago James "Buster" Douglas was lifting weights, running and sparring in preparation for a heavyweight title fight with Mike Tyson.

This year Douglas is attending Lamaze classes with his wife in preparation for an impending addition to the family.

There isn't much doubt which he prefers.

"I feel like I'm the luckiest man in the world," Douglas said.

Douglas, an off-the-board underdog, shocked Tyson with a 10th-round knockout Feb. 10 in Tokyo to win the heavyweight championship. For 8 1/2 months, Douglas was king of the heavyweight division. Everyone said nice things about him, boxers paid him homage and the public adored his rags-to-riches story.

Then came Oct. 25. Douglas rolled into his first title defense against Evander Holyfield at 246 pounds -- 16 pounds heavier than against Tyson. And he was humiliated in a third-round knockout.

Now he said he spends his days in the office of James Buster Douglas Inc., setting up a charitable foundation in memory of his mother, who died shortly before the Tyson fight. At home, he and wife Bertha are getting ready for their first child.

And in Douglas's mind, he's laying the groundwork for clearing his name in boxing.

"I consider myself still a fighter," he said. "At this point, though, I don't know what's on the horizon. It's just a thing where after the first of the year I'll start training again because I enjoy fighting. It's something I can still do and do well. Because what they saw October 25th wasn't the best James Douglas can offer, that's for sure."

Douglas blames fitful training and a shorter period of preparation for his lack of conditioning. When he stepped on the scales, he said he was shocked when his weight was announced. He said it had a profound impact on the fight.

"I felt I was going to come in at 236, to be honest with you," said Douglas, who weighs between 250 and 260 today. "I tried to not let it affect me, to go out there and go to work. But it was surprising."

After a miserable performance, he was lampooned by columnists and comedians, mocked by Tyson and by Holyfield's handlers. Just like that, Douglas went from champ to chump in the public eye.

Despite being the butt of jokes, he said he didn't have problems recovering from the loss. He said he understood how fickle people can be. He said he has a low tolerance for those jumping on or off his bandwagon.

"I never got caught up in believing that they always loved me," he said of some followers. "I knew they were there for the moment, or however long the moment lasts. That's why I stayed away from it. . . .

"I was intimidated in a sense because I didn't want to ever be around that -- the situation where everybody was smiling in my face, knowing they've got their big knives behind their backs waiting to put them in my back."

He said he regrets saying after the Holyfield fight he would fight anybody if the money was right. Now he says money doesn't enter into it, just the opportunity to make people forget Oct. 25.

"I need something to show that I'm back. A major fight. Not just a fight, but a fight with some credibility. I see that as being a Tyson-Douglas fight," Douglas said.

He said Tyson needs him as much as he needs Tyson.

"I feel Mike wants to redeem himself. He wants an opportunity to fight James Douglas again. And I'm more than willing to give him the opportunity because we're two of the best heavyweights out there," he said. "And I feel when I'm right, there's no one who can compete with me. When I fight Mike Tyson, the winner should get a mandatory title shot."