By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport in Birmingham
Runner-up Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to Joe Calzaghe after the Welsh boxer beat him to the 2007 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Hot favourite Hamilton, second in the championship in his rookie Formula One season, was sandwiched between Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton in the public vote.
Hamilton said Calzaghe's exploits fully merited the prestigious BBC accolade.
"He's a worthy winner. I just wish he was here so I could meet him," Hamilton told BBC Sport.
Calzaghe was presented with the prize in Las Vegas where he watched friend Hatton suffer a 10th-round knockout by Floyd Mayweather.
Hamilton, who was up at 0400 GMT on Sunday to watch Hatton's defeat, said his father Anthony was a big boxing fan.
"I've been into boxing mainly because my dad's into it and I grew up watching it," said the 22-year-old.
"I can't say I have totally followed his career - what Joe Calzaghe has done is very different to my job - but he's been phenomenal."
Hamilton had been an odds-on favourite for the award after just missing out on the world title by a point.
But super-middleweight king Calzaghe, world champion for a decade, was the clear winner from 10 shortlisted contenders with 29% of the public vote.
Hertfordshire-born Hamilton, who watched the show in 2006 as a virtual unknown, said he was just flattered to make the top three and split Calzaghe and Hatton.
"It's a bit strange to be in the middle of these two - they are sporting legends really," he said.
"They are at the top of the game, and I have to pinch myself that I'm there.
"I come from a very normal town (Stevenage) and to be named among those sporting personalities is unreal."