LAS VEGAS — Mike Tyson was trying his heavyweight best to be contrite and humble. He said he was sorry and that next time he would learn to control his anger.
When it came time for Nevada boxing regulators to speak their piece, though, Tyson was already out the door.
The former heavyweight champion didn't stick around Tuesday to hear the Nevada Athletic Commission reject his bid for a boxing license to fight Lennox Lewis on April 6.
He was already out in the parking lot, calling Lewis out.
"I think Lennox is a coward," Tyson said. "I'm going to fight him any time I see him in the streets."
Lewis might have felt he was in a street fight with Tyson last week in New York during the news conference announcing the fight.
"The fact is that Mike Tyson bit through my trousers and took a significant piece of flesh out of my thigh," Lewis said Tuesday night in his first public comments about the melee.
The commission's 4-1 decision knocked Tyson out of a Nevada fight with Lewis that would have perhaps helped salvage a boxing reputation as tattered as his personal life.
Tyson can still apply for a license elsewhere, and his advisers figure to scramble to keep one of the richest fights in history intact. But even Tyson seemed to realize that he may have sabotaged his chances of ever meeting Lewis in the ring.
"I didn't think I was going to get licensed, but (adviser) Shelly Finkel was forcing me to come anyway," Tyson said as he headed for a limousine after the hearing.
Lewis said he has not made a decision about the possibility of fighting Tyson outside Nevada.
"I am still consulting with my attorneys as to the legal consequences should I declare that I will not go forward with the bout," Lewis said. "I am sorry that the situation has not yet been resolved."
Tyson left the hearing minutes before the vote, seemingly tired of being lectured to by commissioners who appeared just as tired of his antics both inside and outside the ring.
A fight that would have made Tyson more than $20 million and meant millions more to a fragile Las Vegas tourism economy was either dead or headed elsewhere after the commission rejected Tyson's explanations for a number of problems he has had in the last few years.
"We will not tolerate this kind of behavior from Mr. Tyson, not in boxing and not in Nevada," said commissioner Amy Ayoub.
The lone vote for Tyson came from commission Chairman Luther Mack, who was the only member still remaining from the commission that revoked Tyson's license for biting Evander Holyfield's ears. Tyson's license was restored 15 months later.
"A lot of people don't want to see you fight again, they want you banned from boxing," Mack told Tyson.
The 35-year-old Tyson, who is being divorced by his wife, Monica, and is under investigation for a rape and assault in Las Vegas, appeared in coat and tie and spoke so softly that commissioners on several occasions asked him to speak up.
When he did, it was to both defend himself and to suggest that others were to blame for most of his problems.
"I'm no Mother Teresa," Tyson said. "I'm not Charles Manson either. Just treat me equal."
Tyson told commissioners that a bodyguard of Lewis was responsible for what happened at the news conference announcing the fight in New York, saying he swung at him only after the bodyguard put his arm on him.
He said, though, he was embarrassed by what happened in New York, where he took a swing at a Lewis bodyguard and later yelled profanities at an audience member who suggested he be put in a straitjacket.
"It was just a horrible situation. I wish it wouldn't have happened," Tyson said. "I'm going to have to deal with it the rest of my life and explain it to my kids."
That didn't get him much sympathy from Ayoub, who questioned Tyson about a positive test for marijuana in Detroit after his fight with Andrew Golota and whether or not he was still on medication for antidepressants.
"We don't want you to be an animal in the ring," Ayoub said. "We want you to be a professional."
Tyson said he stopped taking antidepressants six months ago and also no longer went to psychiatric therapy.
The proposed fight was to be a joint pay-per-view venture between Showtime, which has a contract with Tyson, and HBO, which has a deal with Lewis. Both networks said they were reserving judgment.
"We are disappointed that we won't be able to present this event in Las Vegas," said Marina Capurro, vice president of communications for Showtime.
"As the television partner of the heavyweight champion, we will sit down and talk with Lennox Lewis and discuss the situation as soon as possible," said Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports.
If Tyson had gotten a license, the host for the major money match would have been the MGM Grand, the site of Tyson's infamous disqualification for biting Evander Holyfield's ears in 1997.
It was the second time the Nevada commission has acted against Tyson. But it also gave him his license back 15 months after first revoking it for biting Holyfield.
"Deep inside I sense you are a good person," commissioner John Bailey said. "I will always root for you to overcome life's challenges."
Because Tyson was simply applying for a license, other jurisdictions are not bound by the decision, and there were reports that three other sites were bidding on the fight.
Lewis, who said he planned to watch the hearing on television, said he would have something to say Wednesday about whether he would still fight.