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 turnout 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.
The Associated Press scored it 116-111 for Holyfield.
"I expect him to come out fighting and I expect to take care of him," Holyfield had 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 Holy-field'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 Holy-field against the ropes, the champion suddenly sidestepped and used his left arm to fling Bean into the ropes. The challenger was hung up in the ropes when Holy-field crashed a right to the head that dropped Bean for a seven-count.