Any boxing fan and even a lot of none boxing fans will remember Prince Naseem Hamed, hated and loved in the UK and USA, described as anything from a genius to a fraud but one thing I don’t think anybody will deny is Prince Naseem Hamed’s ability to entertain.
The first time I ever seen him fight was against somebody called Enrique Angeles, Naseem knocked him out in the second round in what I believe is still one of his best performances. It’s easy to dismiss Enrique Angeles as a nobody but six months later he fought Erik Morales and only lost by a decision. I believe this was the period of Naseem Hamed’s Career that he should have been having big fights. After that Naseem fought a over the hill former world champion from Colombia before moving up a weight and humiliating Welsh world champion Steve Robinson.
This is where Frank Warren Naseem Hamed’s promoter at the time went wrong. In my opinion Naseem should have stayed as a Super Bantamweight collected a couple of belts and then moved up a weight. Frank Warren has notorious connections with the WBO so Naseem fought Steve Robinson for the WBO featherweight belt but the WBO Super Bantamweight/Junior Featherweight was Marco Antonio Barrera a much more interesting fight. I believe at this time in their careers Naseem would have beat Marco Antonio Barrera as Junior Jones did just a few of months after Prince Naseem won his title from Steve Robinson.
He then knocked Siad Lawel (who ever he is) out with one punch before getting knocked down in the first only to get up and knock out Daniel Alicea in the second.
Then he fought with a flu (he claims) against a very underrated Manuel Medina he looked terrible, nearly lost, nearly got knocked out despite many believing Medina was a light puncher but in the end he and some viscous punches forced a very tough and brave Medina to quit.
He then fought a pointless fight against Remigio Daniel Molina in which he won in two rounds and then impressively beat IBF champion Tom Johnson. Critics of Naseem pointed out Johnson was past his best but the facts were Tom Johnson was unbeaten in 19 fights, never been knocked out in 46 fights and was world champion for 4 years. In other words Tom Boom Boom Johnson was no bum.
He than fought three pointless fights against Billy Hardy, Juan Gerardo Cabrera and Jose Badillo he won them all impressively and easily but I don’t think these fights were necessary for a fighter close to his peak.
Then he went to New York and had a great fight against Kevin Kelley who had a record of 47 wins 1 loss and 2 draws at the time and was a very underrated and solid boxer and it showed in the fight. He knocked Naseem Hamed down twice in the first two rounds and seemed to be out boxing Naseem in the second and third rounds. He then got sucked in to a slug feast and Prince Naseem inevitably knocked him out in the fourth.
He then fought and beat WBA champion Wilfredo Vazquez via 8th round knock out former WBC bantamweight title holder Wayne McCullough on points, and left his life time trainer after this fight before beating future IBF title holder Paul Ingle via KO in round 11.
He then beat WBC featherweight champion Cesar Soto in a ugly fight. Had Vazquez not been stripped by the WBA of his belt (the WBA did not want their featherweight title unified with the WBO), Hamed would have had the distinction of winning all four world titles in the division. This would have made him the first undisputed Featherweight Champion since Vicente Saldivar gave up his titles in 1967.
He then impressively knocked out former undefeated long-reigning IBF super bantamweight title holder, Vuyani Bungu of South Africa.
Then came one of the most entertaining fights of his career against big punching but some say weak chinned (though he took some punches in this fight) Augie Sanchez (who beat Floyd Mayweather in the Amateurs.)
He now faced Marco Antonio Barrera and he failed to take the fight seriously. Like most people at the time Naseem thought Marco Antonio Barrera was going to storm in take the fight to him and get knocked out but Barrera had already made that mistake in his DQ loss against Junior Jones years earlier. Barrera smartly out boxed Naseem who spent most of the fight getting hit while he was trying to land one big punch. It was a bad loss and effectively the end of Naseem Hamed aged just 27 though he fought one more time in a completely forgettable match against Manuel Calvo.
Obviously Frank Warren did not realize Naseem Hamed was going to end his career at just 28 but with hindsight and considering how he was beating opponents in his youth it would have suited Naseem Hamed to have fought a higher level of opposition early in his career because he was a much better fighter earlier in his career. I think he deserves credit as one of the best British champions to ever live but his career needed bigger fights earlier in his career and due to this there are more questions than answers about Naseem Hamed’s ability as a boxer.
When it came to his punching power and his entertaining way of fighting and promoting fights Naseem Hamed was definitely among the greatest fighters ever.