Lewis giveth and taketh away
It was one swing that took Lennox Lewis' world heavyweight championship belts in an April meeting with unheralded Baltimore puncher Hasim Rahman. And it was one punch that won them back seven months later.
Rahman, who shocked the boxing world with his one-punch knockout of Lewis in their Apr. 22 meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, taunted Lewis ceaselessly in their promotional tour preceding the highly anticipated rematch. Rahman, who went so far as to intimate that Lewis was a homosexual, seemingly got to Lewis and the two brawled at a television studio during an interview they were taping for ESPN's Up Close.
But it was Lewis that got to Rahman in the fourth round of the court-mandated immediate rematch. Lewis' short left hook barely glanced Rahman's face but forced him off-balance for the right hand that ended his short reign as champ. With the victory, Lewis became just the fourth man (Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield) in heavyweight history to regain the title from the man he lost it to.
John Ruiz became the first Latino heavyweight champion of the world when he beat Evander Holyfield for the WBA belt in March. It was a rematch of their 2000 fight in which Holyfield won in a controversial decision. A third meeting between the two fighters, which was originally to be held in China but was moved to Connecticut in wake of September 11, is scheduled for December 15.
In the lower divisions, Middleweight Bernard Hopkins surprised many with his 12th-round technical knockout of many people's pound-for-pound champ Felix Trinidad in their September bout at Madison Square Garden. The upset win by Hopkins unified the three middleweight belts for the first time since 1987 when Marvin Hagler held all the titles.
Another pound-for-pound favorite also suffered his first defeat in 2001. “Prince” Naseem Hamed, the outspoken featherweight got beat in a 12-round unanimous decision by veteran Marco Antonio Barrera.