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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 16:22 GMT

Lewis-Holyfield rematch ordered

Don King (centre): Already negotiating a rematch

Boxing's three major governing bodies have ordered Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield to fight a rematch within six months after their controversially drawn world unification bout on Saturday.

BBC Sports Correspondent Kevin Gearey: "If there was to be a spot the loser competition, it would also be a draw"
The rematch was ordered by International Boxing Federation President Bob Lee, World Boxing Association President Gilberto Mendoza and World Boxing Council President Jose Sulaiman.

The fight at Madison Square Garden would have brought all three versions of the heavyweight world title together for the first time since 1992 and had raised the prospect of the first undisputed British champion for more than a century.

Lewis vs Holyfield
In the event, veteran American boxer Holyfield held onto his WBA and IBF titles and British fighter Lewis had his WBC belt returned as the bout was judged a draw

The boxing world is still in uproar over the decision, which many pundits and most of those who watched the contest believed should have clearly gone to Lewis on points.

[ image: Lewis: Arms aloft in triumph]
Lewis: Arms aloft in triumph
Statistical analysis of the fight supported the view, showing that the British fighter connected with nearly three times as many punches as his opponent.

IBF President Bob Lee said he felt the three organisations had done "the most sensible thing".

"It's a shame there was so much controversy attached to this important fight," he said.

Tony Banks: "The judging looks to be a bit strange"
UK Sports Minister Tony Banks welcomed news of the rematch - but insisted the fight should take place in Britain.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Banks said: "This was going to be an important occasion in boxing, when the two best heavyweights were going to have a unification fight, because there were three belts at stake.

Lewis' trainer Emmanual Steward: "Something is not right"
"Morally, [Holyfield's promoter] Don King should have said that this is a fight that ought to go to the UK, quite frankly I think that is owed to Lennox Lewis. In a fair situation, Lewis is going to beat Holyfield."

Fears for Holyfield

Talk of the re-match is already dominating the boxing world and King is reportedly already in negotiations to organise a second encounter before the end of the millennium.

Evander Holyfield: "I'm ready for a rematch"
London and South Africa have been suggested as venues, but the greater likelihood is that a rematch will return to the US - this time at the New York Yankees Stadium.

Lewis, 33, has already expressed his willingness to fight a rematch, but added that he was worried for the health of 36-year-old Holyfield.

Possible challengers

BBC Boxing Correspondent John Rawling: "It seems that some people may have known the result before the fight ended"
The American is reportedly unwilling to fight the bigger, heavier Briton again before September. Holyfield is widely regarded as one of the finest heavyweights of all time, but many feel that he is now well past his peak.

In addition, there are television contracts to be negotiated and possible challengers to be fought. Holyfield could also decide that enough is enough and retire with his health intact.

South African judge Stanley Christoudoulou awarded the fight to Lewis 116-113, American judge Eugene Williams went for Holyfield 115-113 and British judge Larry O'Connor called the fight a 115-115 draw.

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