Headline, March01, 2013




''I honestly believe I'm the best, the best ever,'' Naseem Hamed said in 1994. He truly seem to believe it, after he claimed the WBO world featherweight title just over a year later, subsequently followed by the IBF and WBC equivalents, so did plenty of others.

His style was typical of a fighter trained by Brendan Ingle  -combination punches, hands down and don't get tagged  -but to this he brought incredible power : ''If I hit a heavyweight on the chin, he's going down,'' he used to boast. And a ring style that saw him flip over the ropes, mock his opponents and taunt them as they tried to get off the canvas.

On the few occasions he was caught with a good shot he just smiled. He was both infuriating and brilliant, a breathtaking talent who backed up his braggadocio where it mattered. The boxing public was divided; half of them wanted to see Hamed fight, the rest wanted to see him put on his backside. Everyone had an opinion about him and, consequently. he was a big box office draw who brought a ready-made-pay-per-view audience with him to Sky Television. It was estimated that his 10 fight contract could earn him more than £25 million.

His fights were events. The match-up against Kevin Kelley at the Madison Square Garden in December 1997 saw both boxers on the canvas and taking up counts before Naseem Hamed finished his opponent in the fourth round. The Prince had arrived. He had it all, and in 1999, was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List. But some years on he split with Ingle and Warren. His MBE was revoked after a conviction for dangerous driving which left a man fighting for his life. He has been to prison and has not fought since an uninspiring bout with Manuel Calvo at the London Arena in May 2002; after struggling to make the weight and overcome an ordinary opponent. Hamed was booed from the ring.

Since then, and despite unlikely talk of a comeback fight against Amir Khan, he has not had a professional fight for all these years
Ingle's is a practised treatise: ''If you want to be happy and content, wealthy and wise, don't drink alcohol, don't smoke and don't gamble.''

''The hardest discipline'' Ingle concludes, ''is self-discipline!'' That's how one of the greatest Boxing talent lost out. Naseem Hamed's professional and domestic disasters robbed him both of his legacy and his crown. No suffering can be greater!!

With respectful dedication to the greatest Boxer the world has ever known: The Champion of World Champions Mohammed Ali.

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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