Evander Holyfield gave his hometown fans what they wanted, but not in the fashion they would have chosen, and had to go the distance Saturday night to outpoint challenger Vaughn Bean in a heavyweight title bout.
Holyfield did score a knockdown in the 10th round, but there were several occasions during the match before 41,357 fans in the Georgia Dome that he looked like an old fighter.
Perhaps in winning the unanimous decision the WBA and IBF champion, who will be 36 on Oct. 19, used up too much energy promoting his homecoming.
The turnabout was definitely an Atlanta tribute to a hometown hero. Even promoter Don King noted that it was a salute to Holyfield, but also to "my promotional talents."
Bean, ridiculed for fighting weak opposition, gave it all he had but fell far short.
Judge Duane Ford of Nevada scored it 116-111, while Al DeVito and Leroy Brown, both of New Jersey, each had it 117-111 for Holyfield.
"I expect him to come out fighting and I expect to talk care of him," Holyfield said.
Bean did not come out fighting in the early rounds, but in rounds 5, 6 and 7 his awkward style bothered Holyfield as the challenger landed short, chopping rights to the head and several shots to the body.
Bean, however, lacked Holyfield's power, and that hurt his chances
In the ninth round, Bean had the best of it for more than two minutes. Then, as Bean pushed Holyfield against the ropes, the champion suddenly sidestepped and used his left arn to fling Bean into the ropes. The challenger was hung up in the ropes when Holyfield crashed a right to the head that dropped Bean for a seven-count.
Once up, Bean backed across the ring and Holyfield pursued him, landing about a half-dozen punches to the head. But Bean lasted the round.
The 25-year-old Bean, who looked flabby at 231 pounds, actually came back to have the best of the final round and Holyfield appeared weary at the bell.
Tyson close to comeback
LAS VEGAS -- Mike Tyson is only a psychiatrist's nod away from returning to the ring.
Nevada boxing officials all but gave Tyson his boxing license back Saturday, awaiting only a report from a psychiatrist that he is not likely to snap again if he's allowed to return to the sport he once dominated.
Unless the report proves alarming, Tyson's licensing figures to be a mere formality when the Nevada Athletic Commission meets Oct. 3 to formally decide his fate.
"If they say he's normal and can fight again, then we have the responsibility to maybe, probably, license him to fight again," commission chairman Dr. Elias Ghanem said.
The commission will pick three psychiatrists by Monday, and Tyson will be able to choose one of them for an examination expected within a week or so.
The former heavyweight champion was at times testy but for the most part contrite during a six-hour hearing before the same commission that revoked his license on July 9, 1997, for biting Holyfield's ears in a title bout.
"I'm not opposed to anything. I don't mind seeing a psychiatrist now and then," Tyson said.
Tyson has been in training recently, and his handlers already have tentative plans against an unnamed opponent for a fight in late November or early December.