The early life:
Born to Yemanese parents living in Sheffield in 1974, the young Naseem Hamed was sent to Brendan Ingle’s gym at the age of 7, due to his parents fears for the short, skinny young boy (Mr and Mrs Hamed, look at your big boy now…has he been to the gym in the last 4 years?). At around the age of 12 he was quickly being talked about as the next amateur that would rule the professional ranks for years if he carried on progressing the way he was. Despite being seen as a top amateur some had noticed a tendency (which also seemed to be a trait of Ingle trained fighters) to leave their hands low, another case in point was Herol “Bomber” Graham.
Ingle had been pro, but his record was never upto much and it consisted or 17 wins and 12 losses from 29 fights, but is best know for his St. Thomas Boxing school gym in Wincobank, Sheffield. Which has produced more than it’s share of champions which have included, the aforementioned Graham, Hamed and current Junior Welterweight champion Junior Witter as well as light heavyweight champion Clinton Woods.
Much like highly respected trainer Freddie Roach who’s own career ended up 39-13-0-1 has ended up training world superstars such as:
Nas turned pro in 1992 debuting as at 114lb’s (superflyweight, thank you wikipedia for being wrong), beating Ricky Beard via 2nd round KO just 11 days later he repeated the feat against Shaun Norman. Following the Norman fight Hamed faced a bigger fish so to speak in super batamweight (118-122 lb’s) Andrew Bloomer, whose’ record read as 0-11-0, Bloomer lasted the same as Beard and Norman, also being TKO’d in the 2nd.
Naz who was stilling a growing boy at this time then jumped to Super Bantam weight himself when he came into the ring at 119 for his fight with Miguel Matthews who lasted 1 round more than the previous 3, being the fight finished in the third round. The following fight went a round further when “Naz” fought the experienced Des Gargano who’d had 77 fights to Naz’s 4.
What it went all 6:-O:
Naz’s next opponent was popular journeyman Peter Buckley, who was then holding a record of 18-18-5 (currently it stands at 31-248-11). Buckley went all 6 rounds, and was the first man to take Naz the distance, despite this Naz walked it by a points decision.
Following this fight came Alan Ley a 4 fight novice who was unbeaten; he lasted 2 rounds, then came Kevin Jenkins who lasted 3 rounds before the TKO. Chris Clarkson who had 41 fights on his belt was next his record was pretty mixed, but another L was added when he was stopped in the second.
Next came the Buckley rematch, where Naz got revenge for the previous fight and became only the second man in history to stop Buckley (Duke Mckenzie was the first) following this was John Miceli who didn’t even last to the end of the first round.
Vincenzo Belcastro was the reigning EBU Batamweight champion when Hamed, after just 11 fights faced him, the fight was the first time the Prince had been taken 12 rounds (and was likely his first to be scheduled for 12 rounds). Naz won via a clear points decision, after knocking down Belcastro in the 1st and 11th rounds.
His first defence was against a double Belcastro victim, Antonio Picardi who Belcastro twice beat on points. Naz going quite a bit better with a 3rd round stoppage which started a 4 year KO streak.
The KO streak:
His next fight was for the WBC International super bantamweight title, which is often seen as a stepping stone to the organisations world title, this fight was against Freddy Cruz who managed to last 6 rounds. Undefeated Laureano Ramirez Padilla managed to remain undefeated for only 2 full rounds of his fight against Naz a feat that Armando Castro bettered by lasting until the 4th. Sergio Rafael Liendo, Enrique Angeles and Juan Polo Perez could only manage until the 2nd round each.
World champion I and the streak continues: (pt I)
Steve Robinson was next, for the WBO featherweight title…
Robinson and the title:
Robinsons had won the title after being a late replacement for champion Ruben Palacios who was set to defend against John Davidson, the WBO controversially sanctioned the fight for the title. Robinson had up to that point been considered nothing more than a journeyman, having been beaten by Mehdi Labdouni in his previous fight. Some how Robinson managed to win a close UD against Davidson, and defend his title against some less than stellar opposition which had included Duke McKenzie and Freddy Cruz.
World champion I and the streak continues: (pt II)
…Despite being the champion many knew Robinson was on borrowed time and he was facing a man on a mission to stop all his opponents as quickly as possible. With this in mind Robinson was decked in the 5th and 8th with the referee saying Robinson had taken enough punishment after the final knockdown. Naz had won the WBO title and gone on a KO streak of 8 straight fights. His first defence of the title was against Said Lawal who lasted and amazing 35 seconds before being number 9 on the streak, before unbeaten Daniel Alicea (15 wins straight) lasted until late in the 2nd to be #10. Alicea had shockingly managed to put Hamed on the canvas in the first round before Hamed put him away. The experienced Manuel Medina who had been a world champion lasted until the end of the 11th round before a TKO stoppage ended that fight. Remigio Daniel Molina who was 27-0-0 was next, he lasted into the 2nd round before being stopped, showing that records mean sod all when their made of paper.
Adding another belt to the collection and the streak continues:
Next came the IBF title holder Tom Johnson who had won his title from the wonderfully named Sugar Baby Rojas almost 3 ½ years previous and been unbeaten since. Though that wasn’t to stop Hamed from ending the fight in the 8th round to add number 12.
Billy Hardy was to be the first fight where Hamed would defend the WBO and IBF titles, and Hardy managed to stay in the over a minute longer than Lawal (97 seconds). Juan Gerardo Cabrera was the next defense and couldn’t make it to the end of the second round, before Jose Badillo went into the 7th and the IBF title vanished (I’m not sure why Hamed didn’t defend it) but another name piled on the list which was now 15 long.
Kevin Kelley and Fight of the Year 1997:
One of the most talked about Hamed fights ever was against the former WBC Featherweight champion of the world and was fought in Madision square Garden, the fight was voted Ring magazines fight of the year despite only going 4 rounds with each fighter scoring multiple knockdowns. Hamed’s usual speed and reactions had gone and he’d had to adopt a more orthodox stance due to Kelley’s ability, and many say this was the fight that signalled the end for Hamed. Both fighters were down 3 times each, with Nas down in the 1st, 2nd and 4th Kelley went down in the 2nd and twice in the 4th before the referee called an end to the fight. This was to be the first of many HBO shown Hamed fights whether HBO would have liked to see their investment on his ass 3 times in 4 rounds is debateable, but they must have loved the excitement.
Wilfredo Vazquez marking his 60th career fight and a three weight champion was next for Hamed. Vazquez was put down 3 times in the fight once in each of the 3rd 6th and 7th before the referee intervened. In what was to be Naz’s 18th straight win by stoppage.
The Pocket Rocket:
Wayne McCullough was next and was to stop the streak that Naz had, which dated back to 17/08/94 and it was now 31/10/98 a 4 year KO streak would come to an end against the former WBC Bantamweight world champion, who had never been stopped (having only been stopped once since), and had never been off his feet in 23 fights. Despite a wide points win for Hamed, Wayne would take on Erik Morales the following year and also end his KO streak.
The next defense was against Paul Ingle (not sure but I don’t think he’s any relation to Brendan Inlge), Hamed won with an 11th round TKO. Ingle then fought and defeated another Hamed victim in Medina for Medina’s IBF title, which he would then defend against Junior Jones. After the Jones fight Ingle was anmed Ring Magazine’s most fun featherweight for 2000, due to his dodgy chin. Sadly not long after this defense he faced Mbulelo Botile, a fight that ended his career and very nearly his life, after surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.
Controversy V Soto:
Cesar Soto would be the next fighter to face Hamed, with the WBC title also on the line for the fight (which had it not been for politics when he faced Vzquez, he would have been the first man to hold all 4 main organisations titles). The Soto fight was controversial due to an illegal move Hamed did in the, which was described by people as a wrestling move, many Soto fans said this took the wind out of Cesar when he was trying to fight back, and the 1 point deduction suffered by the Prince wasn’t reflective, and that Soto should have got the win via DQ. The judges gave Hamed a wide decision win meaning he added the WBC title to his WBO.
On the undercard of this fight was the aforementioned Morales v McCullough fight, with rumours spreading that Hamed Morales was in the works.
Vuyani Bungu was Hamed’s next opponent, this fight was merely for the WBO strap as the WBC stripped him of their title due to not making a mandatory defence (boxing politics is a messy game). Bungu lasted 4 rounds and a bit as did Augie Sanchez who came next.
Barrera and the first loss:
The Mexican legend (who I wrote about yesterday) was stepping up to face off against Hamed, the bookies made Hamed a heavy favourite (1/3 in some places) and only a very select few predicted anything but another win for Naz. The fight was to be Naz’s most bizarre entrance and by far the most elaborate ring entrance ever (apart from the Fan man’s) with fireworks, music and a motorised seat suspended from a catwalk were put together.
Barrera had put together a game plan, based around Naz’s southpaw stance (right foot forward) which had involved circling Hamed and going left around him, neutralising Hamed’s powerful left hook. As well as this Barrera was more than happy to play dirty with punches on the break and getting told off by referee Joe Cortez (who is the referee for the upcoming Hatton V Mayweather fight). Barrera’s tactics working well and getting him to a safe lead when in the final round he rammed Hamed’s head into the turnbuckle (getting deducted a point) in the final round.
Naz did fight again, just once, a poor display against Manuel Calvo which Hamed won by a large margin on points, before retiring, bloating up and forgetting how to drive.
Out of the ring:
in 2005 Naseem Hamed was involved in an automobile accident which result in his arrest the following day, the victim of the accident was Anthony Burgin who broke every major bone in his body and suffered brain injuries. Hamed was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment but was released after 16 weeks and has been electronically tagged since leaving prison. He is now ensued in a bitter legal battle with Mr Burgin who has been told he is unlikely to ever work again.