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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Naseem Hamed profile
Naseem Hamed (right) came off second best to Marco Antonio Barrera
Naseem Hamed (right) came off second best to Marco Antonio Barrera

"Prince" Naseem Hamed's 15-month jail sentence for dangerous driving looks to have finally brought an ignominious end to one of British boxing's most illustrious careers.

The former world featherweight champion has been out of the ring since May 2002 and his once-mooted return now appears highly unlikely.

Hamed burst on to the boxing scene in spectacular fashion, capturing the limelight with his remarkable hand speed and ferocious punching power.

He was also a flamboyant individual, some would say arrogant.

Raised in a working class Muslim family in Sheffield, Hamed established himself as one of the brightest young talents in the amateur game before turning professional at 18.

He made an impressive start to his pro career, convincingly beating Ricky Beard inside two rounds in Mansfield - an early sign of a power seldom seen in the lower weight divisions.

By 1994, Hamed had beaten Vicenzo Belcastro to take the European super bantamweight title aged 20.

His profile was also growing at a fast rate thanks to his showboating skills.

HAMED FACT FILE
Born: 12/02/1974
Turned pro: 14/04/1994
Division: Featherweight
Record: 37-1-0
Alias: Prince Naseem Hamed
Height: 5ft 4in
Reach: 68in
Trainer: Maurice Core
Promoter: Barry Hearn

Throw in the distinctive leopard-skin shorts and a trademark somersaulted entrance into the ring, and it was easy to see why the TV men soon came knocking.

Hamed's first big fight came a year later in 1995 when he was matched up with WBO featherweight champion Steve Robinson at Cardiff Arms Park.

Hamed took his chance with relish, putting in a sparkling performance in Robinson's backyard to knock the Welshman out in eight rounds and take his world title.

Naseem was even more lethal in his next fight.

He put Said Lawal on the floor with his first punch and finished the Nigerian off in just 35 seconds.

Hamed turned up the glitz and glamour levels by employing a throne and a flying carpet in his subsequent entrances into the ring.

And he did not disappoint when the action got under way.

A comprehensive eight-round victory over Tom Johnson at the London Arena gave him the IBF title and paved the way for several big-money fights in America.

Prince Naseem Hamed loved to make flamboyant entrances to his fights
Hamed's entrances to the ring became ever more spectacular

Hamed arrived in New York with a bang when he knocked out former world champion Kevin Kelley in the fourth round at Madison Square Garden.

In what was probably the fight of 1997, Hamed got up off the canvas three times to knock Kelley out with a thumping left and thrill the American audience.

Victories over Wilfredo Vazquez and Wayne McCullough followed in 1998, but there was also an acrimonious split with both promoter Frank Warren and trainer Brendan Ingle.

Ingle had been with Hamed since he was a precocious seven-year-old, but the boxer dispensed with his services, choosing to promote himself with the help of brother Riath and Barry Hearn.

Hamed added the WBC title to his list of honours in 1999 when he beat Cesar Soto on points in Detroit.

KEY FIGHTS
10/04/1995: Beats Steve Robinson in Cardiff to win WBO featherweight title
30/9/1997: Beats Tom Johnson in London to take IBF title
22/10/1999: Wins WBC title beating Cesar Soto on points in Detroit
8/4/2001: Loses after 12 rounds to Marco Antonio Barrera
18/5/2002: Beats Manuel Calvo in underwhelming style in final fight

But his fallibility was becoming more apparent with each knockdown.

Hamed's career-defining fight came in 2001 against highly-rated Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera.

Hamed arrived in the Las Vegas confident of doing to Barrera what he had done to his other opponents.

But he left battered and bruised after a comprehensive beating.

The unanimous points defeat was his first loss, but Hamed took the setback with surprisingly good grace.

He returned to the ring to record an unconvincing points win over Manuel Calvo, but much of his old swagger had vanished.

Vague talk of a return to the sport has swirled around the charismatic fighter ever since, but no firm plans have ever been made.

During his court case in Sheffield, he looked overweight and nowhere near the kind of shape for a comeback.

Hamed will now have time to reflect on a career which fizzled out after a spectacular opening.



SEE ALSO
Naseem Hamed jailed for car crash
12 May 06 |  South Yorkshire
Naseem Hamed's career in pictures
20 May 03 |  Photo Galleries


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