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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 00:15 GMT
Lewis reaches a new peak
Lennox Lewis v Hasim Rahman - Las Vegas, 17 November 2001
Lewis was dominant against Rahman the second time
After ending another year as the best heavyweight in the world, a CBE is a fitting award for Lennox Lewis.

One of the best boxers to ever hail from the British Isles, Lewis did not have things all his way in 2001.

A fifth-round knockout by Hasim Rahman stripped Lewis of his World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation titles - and according to much of the press, his dignity.

Which was odd, bearing in mind how much credibility Lewis brought to the heavyweight title and British boxing.

After appearing to beat Evander Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight title in March 1999, Lewis found himself having to share a draw.

  Lewis facts
Born: 2 September 1965
1988: Wins Olympic Super-heavyweight gold medal for Canada
1992: Is awarded WBC Heavyweight title
1997: Wins WBC title for a second time by beating former conqueror Oliver McCall
November 1999: Wins undisputed title by beating Evander Holyfield
December 1999: Is voted BBC Sports Personality of the year
November 2001: Becomes three-time world champion by knocking out Hasim Rahman

Instead of crying, Lewis merely accepted a rematch with the American later that year and became Britain's only undisputed heavyweight champion

As the champion, he accepted all challenges and seemed to convince the scepitcal American audiences that a British heavyweight could be the best in the world.

But after that shock in South Africa in April, many wondered whether Lewis could bounce back.

He also had to deal with the split between himself and long time manager Frank Maloney - a partnership which ended in the summer with a touch of acrimony.

Those who had always questioned Lewis' credentials at the highest level were getting all the ammunition they needed.

His ability to take a punch was questioned, while many cited Lewis' lack of preparation at altitude the key factor for his defeat to Rahman in the rarefied air of Carnival City.

By the time he secured a rematch with Rahman, Lewis was 36 and only Muhammad Ali and George Foreman had managed to win the famous title back at that stage of their career.

Thanks to a court order, Rahman was not allowed to fight anyone before granting Lewis a rematch.

That came on 17 November in Las Vegas and Lewis produced arguably his greatest performance ever.

For the first three rounds, he held Rahman at bay with his pumping left jab, before opening up in the fourth with a stunning right-hand which flattened the champion for the count.

The win meant that Lewis became a three-time world heavyweight champion, with Ali and Evander Holyfield the only others to share that distinction.

He adds the CBE to the MBE he picked up in 1999.

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