Should Hamed be inducted into the Hall of Fame?
By Gav Duthie: Love him or hate him you couldn’t take your eyes off him. Prince Naseem Hamed was box office. Everything from his ring walk to his fighting style was pure showman. Time passes on and it was 13 years ago that we last seen him in a boxing ring.
Hamed has recently been inducted into the international boxing hall of fame for his achievements. There is no doubt that Naz provided inspiration to a large group in the English/Arabic/Asian community to take up boxing. We are now seeing the fruits of his labor with champions like Kell Brook and Amir Khan, contenders like Kid Galahad and Kal Yafai as well as some comic acts like Prince Patel and Uzzy Ahmed.
I feel though that on a personal level Hamed’s boxing skills would have been badly exposed had he carried on fighting. Although I was disappointed that he retired so young it was the right decision to keep his reputation intact considering the opposition he never faced. I question whether he should genuinely be inducted into the hall of fame.
It seems bizarre to say that Naseem Hamed is the same age as Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez yet Naz retired aged 28 in 2002 on the eve of arguably the greatest era in featherweight history. Think of what the likes of Barrera, Morales, Marquez and Pacquaio achieved since then whilst Hamed walked away when boxing immortality was up for grabs. Naseem won the WBO title in 1995 against fellow Brit Steve Robinson and defended it successfully 15 times also unifying titles along the way (IBF – Tom Johnson WTKO 8 in 1997) and (WBC – Cesar Soto WUD 12 in 1999). It was an extremely impressive reign which included a 4th round stoppage over talented American Kevin Kelley which is one of the greatest bouts of all time. He achieved so much yet at the first hurdle he couldn’t jump he walked away when he lost to Marco Antonio Barrera.
After he lost to Marco Antonio Barrera he was adamant there would be a rematch. I feel he retired knowing that he wouldn’t beat Barrera and some of the other fighters coming along. Promoter Frank Warren who described him once as the best British boxer of all time could see the writing on the wall. He said Hamed couldn’t motivate himself to do the early morning runs, the long training camps. He had made a lot of money and said he had achieved everything but for me the top fighters move up the divisions, they face the best in super-fights which Hamed failed to do. How would he have faired against some of the big names.
Featherweight at time of Hamed’s retirement
Champion – Marco Antonio Barrera
1. Erik Morales
2. Naseem Hamed
3. Manuel Medina
4. Juan Manuel Marquez
5. Derrick Gainer
6. Johnny Tapia
7. Frank Toledo
8. Scott Harrison
9. Lehlo Ledwaba
10. William Abelyan
Marco Antonio Barrera 2
I can’t see how this would have been any different to the first fight. Hamed was telegraphing his punches too much and Barrera seemed much the stronger fighter. His counterpunching made Naz pay for lunging in and he had complete control of the centre of the ring.
Barrera UD 12
Would have been a huge domestic dust up after he battered Wayne McCullough in the first defence of his WBO title in 2003. Hamed hadn’t officially retired and the Scot was looking fantastic. His biggest attribute was his size and strength. He would rehydrate up to 140lbs on fight meaning his featherweight opponents were heavily outmuscled. I think Naseem was too cute for Harrison though and the power wasn’t enough to knock the Prince out.
Hamed UD 12
During his prime years Morales was considered to have the best chin in boxing. As a result I think we can rule out a Hamed knock out. I feel Morales was the superior technician and his work rate was also much higher. I feel Hamed eats right hands all night long here and loses again.
Morales UD 12
Juan Manuel Marquez
Marquez was rated #4 in 2002 and he destroyed 5-time featherweight champion #3 Manuel Medina in early 2003. For whatever reason at this stage Marquez had nowhere near the same level of reputation of Barrera and Morales. Even after he drew with Manny Pacquaio in 2004 he waited 4 years before he got his first rematch. Again even at this stage I can’t see Hamed winning this with lunging punches considering the high ring IQ of Marquez
Marquez UD 12
Ring legend Tapia took his own life in 2012 but like Naz he was another amazing eccentric personality. In 2002 around the time of Naseem’s last fight Tapia won the IBF featherweight title with a 12 round split decision over Manuel Medina. Johnny started as a Super Flyweight so this was a great achievement and he lost the title shortly after to Marco Antonio Barrera. I think Naz would have been too much for him and would have likely scored a late stoppage.
Hamed KO 10
1. Acelino Freitas
2. Joel Casamayor
3. Jesus Chavez
Champion: Paulie Ayala
1. Manny Pacquaio
2. Oscar Larios
3. Salim Medikoune
4. Enrique Sanchez
5. Israel Vasquez
In pointing out there were several huge fights in the division around his retirement there were also many potential future bouts. Remember Naz was only 28 when he retired, Manny Pacquaio was soon to move up and bigger stronger Super Featherweight fighters like Freitas and Casamayor would have represented strong challenges.
Hall of Fame?
As aforementioned he was a great boxing influence for many and he was hugely entertaining. Was he a great boxer, absolutely but my point is the next 4 or 5 years would have proved it one way or the other and he would still only have been 33/34 years old. For all I know he maybe destroys Barrera, Morales, Marquez but why didn’t he want to fight them? It depends really on what you think the criteria is for reaching the hall of fame but there are a lot of great boxers not in there so does Naseem Hamed really deserve in my opinion I think he just falls short.
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