ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., JAN. 21 -- Tyrell Biggs had no entourage, no faint chance. Nor did Tony Tucker. Or Pinklon Thomas. Or Bonecrusher Smith. Those were heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's last four opponents. This one is different. When Larry Holmes finally came out of seclusion today, he at least acted like a worthy challenger and one-time champion.

He swept into the Trump Plaza Hotel amid a swirl of beefy bodyguards and hefty retinue. And when the Holmes tide went out following the weigh-in for Friday night's scheduled 12-round heavyweight championship bout (HBO, about 10:25 p.m.), Donald Trump himself and actor Kirk Douglas were among a multitude left in its wake.

Even the Tyson camp accorded Holmes some credit for his 7 1/2-year reign as champion. Tyson's trainer, Kevin Rooney, acknowledged Holmes was not to be confused with Biggs, Tucker, Thomas and Smith. Holmes could not be taken lightly, said Rooney, even if he is, at age 38, a 7 1/2-to-1 underdog to the unbeaten, tough-punching Tyson, 21.

"It's definitely a different situation," said Rooney. "Larry Holmes shouldn't be intimidated going into the ring. Now what happens after he gets hit a couple times, that's another question.

"{He has} experience. He knows all the tricks. He's seen everything. Experience. It helps tremendously. He's been there. He should be relaxed, which is the key for any fighter. The more relaxed you are, then the better you will be able to perform. Nothing will surprise you.

"He should stick to his fight plan. But I'm saying once he gets hit, he may drop out, too."

Before Holmes buttoned his lip as well as his Easton, Pa., training camp, he said he would trade punches with Tyson, and he should use his experience to try to tie up the always advancing Tyson. He'll try to hit and hold.

The fighters continued to keep their distance today despite being on the same stage for the weigh-in. The 6-foot-3 Holmes weighed 225 3/4 after ballooning to 255 during a 21-month retirement, and Tyson, 5-11 1/2, hit 215 3/4. But, as he was turning to leave, Holmes shouted, "I'm here to fight. I'm here for business. Have a good day. I'll see you all tomorrow night, especially Mike Tyson."

Tyson responded with some finger-pointing. "He said he'll be there tomorrow night," said Rooney. ". . . He wasn't upset. He's just going to go in there and do the job. He's coming to fight. And this guy Holmes" -- so much for respect accorded old champions -- "better come to fight. They do a lot of talking, and we all know what happens when guys talk. Talk is cheap."

It was ironic that Rooney criticized the almost silent Holmes for "talking." Back when he did talk, Holmes often left himself open to criticism. One of his worst moments was, after failing to equal Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record by a single fight, when he said Marciano "couldn't carry my jockstrap."

For this fight, Holmes has kept quiet by design. According to his trainer, Richie Giachetti, Holmes didn't want to be bothered by reporters coming into his camp and questioning his comeback motives.

"I don't need the distractions at this {Holmes'} age," said Giachetti, a toothpick between his teeth. "We're here, ain't we? If we were here training, all you guys would have been bothering us every day. So we didn't have anybody bothering us."

While Rooney said of Holmes, "To me, I looked right at his stomach and he looked a little soft," Giachetti professed that Holmes was in condition to make up for back-to-back defeats by Michael Spinks, the second one a particularly controversial split decision.

Holmes believes he lost in part because he criticized the judges' decision in his first Spinks fight, which cost him his title in September 1985. People have told him, he has said, " 'if you'd have shut up, you would have won that {second} fight.' {But} I'm going to always say it like it is. And if you're going to take the title, take it."

Holmes appears to be coming back partly for the money ($3.1 million to Tyson's $5 million), partly because boxing has been his life and maybe mostly in quest of respect given such champions as Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Marciano but never him. The curiosity about Tyson-Holmes is whether the same fate awaits Holmes as most other old champions who attempted to come back. To hear Giachetti tell it, Holmes can cool the heat Tyson brings to the ring.

"He's the dirtiest fighter that's ever been, Giachetti said of Tyson. "It's supposed to be a sport. It's not something where "I've got to kill you. I'm going to tear you up.

"I said, 'Larry, you can beat this guy.' And he decided, 'You know, Richie, I can beat this guy.' . . .

"Who did {Tyson} fight? Old workhorses. Any way it comes out" -- meaning even with a decision -- "we're going to be the winner. The judges just got to do their job and do it properly." In fact, Holmes' best hope seemed to be a decision; Tyson hasn't been in trouble in 32 fights.

Giachetti bristled at the suggestion that Holmes might not be able to go 12 rounds with Tyson, insisting Holmes has done everything to get his legs into shape -- weights, roadwork. "The legs," he said, "are what stamina is all about."

LARRY HOLMES 21..........Age.......................38

5-11 1/2.......Height...................6.3 215 3/4........Weight...................225 3/4

71..........Reach.....................81 43..........Chest (normal)...........43 1/2 45..........Chest (expanded).........45 1/2 16..........Biceps...................15 3/4 14..........Forearm...................13 34..........Waist.....................35 27..........Thigh.....................25 19 3/4.........Neck.....................17 1/2 18..........Calf......................16 8...........Wrist.....................8 13..........Fist.....................13 1/2 11..........Ankle.....................10 --------------------------------------------------