There was a raising of eyebrows and some head shaking, too, among the boxing fraternity when Mike Tyson signed to fight Donovan "Razor" Ruddock.

"I think it's a big risk Tyson is taking," said Evander Holyfield, the undisputed heavyweight champion, who was in New York on Tuesday on another matter.Ruddock, big, strong and with knockout power in either hand, is ranked second only to Tyson by the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation.

"Both these guys are risking a lot by fighting each other," promoter Don King said during a news conference to announce the 12-round match March 18 outdoors at the Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Tyson is in line to fight the winner of Holyfield's title defense against George Foreman on April 19 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

One person who isn't worried about Tyson blowing his mandatory title challenge by fighting is Tyson.

"Basically, he's a good fighter," the former heavyweight champion said, "but I'm extremely confident about the fight.

"The fight is not going to be as hard as everybody thinks it is."

When asked why, the former champion replied, "Because it isn't."

While King talks of risks, Murad Muhammad, Ruddock's promoter, who will co-promote the match, said Ruddock had no choice.

"It's evident that neither Holyfield nor George Foreman will fight Razor Ruddock in the next two years," Muhammad said. "We're going to force them."

A victory over Tyson would put Ruddock into the position of being the mandatory challenger. Should he not fight Tyson, it would be sometime in 1992 before he would become mandatory challenger.

Ruddock, a Jamaican who lives in Toronto, was at the U.S. Consulate there on Tuesday applying for a U.S. residence visa.