Evander Holyfield gave his hometown fans what they wanted. Vaughn Bean gave a lot of people what they didn't expect.
Holyfield, looking at times like an old fighter, knocked Bean down in the 10th round and won a unanimous decision over the scrappy challenger before 41,357 in the Georgia Dome on Saturday night.
While Bean was fighting only his eighth opponent with a winning record, Holyfield showed the guile that comes from long years of experience in top-flight competition.
Bean was pushing Holyfield into the ropes late in the 10th round when the heavyweight champion suddenly sidestepped Bean and flung him into the ropes with his left arm. Bean was hung up in the ropes when Holyfield landed a right to the side of the head that dropped him for a seven-count.
"He hit me when I was down," Bean said, although he was still on his feet when the punch landed. "The ref didn't do his job. I know I was on his home turf. He hit me right on the temple. The ref could have stepped in."
"I've got to take advantage of every opportunity I get, because he's a good fighter," said Holyfield, who will be 36 on Oct. 19. "I just turned and hit him. That's part of the boxing game."
The disappointed Bean, who was ranked No. 1 by the International Boxing Federation and was Holyfield's mandatory challenger, said: "I thought I won the fight--same song."
Last March 29, Bean lost an IBF title bid against then-champion Michael Moorer on a 12-round majority decision. This time the decision wasn't close.
Judge Duane Ford of Nevada scored it 116-111, while Al DeVito and Leroy Brown, both of New Jersey, had it 117-111 for Holyfield. The Associated Press scored it 116-111 for Holyfield.
Holyfield found the awkward Bean much tougher than most observers thought he would be.
"I did not come in overconfident," Holyfield said. "I hit him with good shots. He also hit me with good shots. You have to give the man credit."
Bean, 25, who looked flabby at 231 pounds, actually came back to have the best of the final round and Holyfield appeared a weary champion at the bell.
Holyfield's next fight is expected to be a mandatory World Boxing Assn. defense against Henry Akinwande of Britain.
Holyfield earned at least $5 million for his 36th victory against three defeats.
Bean, of Chicago, fell to 32-2, but he earned $1.8 million.