She was sifting offers, but a voice in her head told Kathy Duva to hold off.

The Main Events honcho saw a press release on Monday heralding the Sultan Ibragimov/Ruslan Chagaev heavyweight consolidation match in Moscow, and her Spidey Sense kicked in.

Not gonna happen, the little voice told her.

So Duva held off, and didn't book a stay-busy fight for Evader Holyfield, the 44 1/2 year-old come-backing hitter looking to secure a heavyweight title for the fifth time.

The voice didn't lie.

On Wednesday morning, word came that Chagaev wouldn't be able to face Ibragimov, the WBO champion, in October.

Team Ibragimov scrambled to save the date, Oct. 13, and they knew
Holyfield (42-8-2) wasn't booked. So the two parties reached an agreement, quickly, so the Russian born boxer, who beat Shannon Briggs in June to nab his strap, could stay on course.

Thursday morning, there was a conference call announcing Holyfield's improbable opportunity.

Holyfield, in a title fight in 2007, in LATE 2007, at age 45…Who woulda thunk it?

C'mon now, when Holyfield announced he was trying again, in the summer of 2006, who thought that this was anything but a fool's errand?

Who thought this was anything but the sad flailings of a rudderless vessel, bored in premature retirement?

Duva for one, says that she thunk it.

“When we started this new relationship with Evander about six months ago, he told me I just want a title fight,” she told TSS. “I promised him, 'You'll get it. ' I didn't think it would be this quick in my wildest dreams. Two fights had to fall out for this to happen. The guy's got someone looking out for him….”

Duva was taking her son for orientation day at Montclair State on Wednesday, so she was juggling home life and her vocation furiously. Her daughter Lisa picked up some slack, acting as an interpreter on the conference call, making sure Holyfield's English was rendered into Russian properly. Lisa had lived in Russia for a year, so that sojourn came in handy, for sure.

(Quick digression: Ibragimov cited an “acute chronic illness” for pulling out. That vague terminology is so boxing, isn't it? Anyone care to hazard a guess what the illness is? Keep it clean, jokers…)

As for Holyfield's chances, I like them a heck of a lot better than I did back last summer. Do I think he'll best Ibragimov? No. Even though Sultan can be a plodder, he has respectable pop (21-0, 17 K0s), and his southpaw stance should prove to be a pain in the butt for 'Vander.

Sultan's no Hall of Fame talent, but he's three steps up from Jeremy Bates, two steps up from Vinny Maddalone and Lou Savarese, 3/4 of a step up from Fres Oquendo. The wild card in play? Holyfield's got someone looking out for him…