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The BBC's John Rawling
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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Hamed resigns WBO title
Naseem Hamed after defeating Cesar Soto in 1999
Naseem Hamed after defeating Cesar Soto in 1999
Prince Naseem Hamed has vacated his WBO featherweight title after HBO failed to approve Koko Kovacs as an opponent according to reports.

In a letter posted on the WBO website,, Hamed's manager, his brother Riath, informs the president of the World Boxing Organisation, Francisco Valcarcel, of Hamed's decision to vacate the title.

The letter, dated 5 October, says that Hamed "is unable to fulfil his madatory obligation due to HBO not approving Koko Kovacs as an opponent.

"I understand the situation has become quite difficult for everyone involved and therefore in order to maintain the excellent relationship that we have enjoyed for the last five years, I would like to notify you of Naseem's decision to vacate the title."

Naseem wants to fight Marco Antonio Barrera
Naseem wants to fight Marco Antonio Barrera
Signed by Riath Hamed, the letter also states that Hamed wanted to keep his No1 ranking and be allowed to fight for the WBO belt in the near future.

Hamed celebrated his fifth anniversary of becoming WBO champion on September, and claims on his own official website that he is still WBO featherweight champion.

Press release

Under the label of an official press release dated 6 October Hamed said: "I am, as of this moment, still the WBO Featherweight Champion of the World.

"I have carried the WBO belt for five years and defended it 15 times against 10 world champions. My victories over the WBO, IBF, WBA and WBC title holders make me the true featherweight champion of the world.

"My immediate goal is to fight the man widely considered the greatest threat to my dominance of the featherweight division, the great Mexican champion Marco Antonio Barrera.

"Marco Barrera, hear this: I hereby challenge you to face me, man-to-man, in the first quarter of the year 2001, at a site to be determined, for the Linear Featherweight Championship of the World, with the winner to be recognized as the one true Featherweight Champion."

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