Naseem Hamed - "I'm Not Retired!"

by James Slater: Naseem Hamed was a ringside fan last night, as his good friend Ryan Rhodes won the British light-middleweight title in London. And though he is almost universally considered a retired ex-fighter, Naz, with a glint in his eye and a ready smile, said this is not actually the case. Speaking to Sky Sports' Adam Smith moments after his friend Rhodes had KO'd Gary Woolcombe, "The Prince" had the following things to say..

Adam Smith: Firstly, you've known Ryan Rhodes about 25 years, what does this win mean to you?

Naz: I'm so happy. This win is like turning the clock back 11 years to when he first won the British title. Now "The Spice Boy" is coming back! It was a great performance. I've known Ryan since the age of six and I always knew he could do it. This British title's just a stepping stone. I reckon the world title is coming up.

Smith: You're 34, and haven't fought for six years, do you miss it? You're fully retired now, aren't you?

Naz: I wouldn't say I'm fully retired, because you never know what's happening in boxing. After seeing Ryan Rhodes doing that, I just don't see why I can't come Back!

Smith: The fire's in the belly? It's a big one now, isn't it, Naz? (laughs)

Naz: (good naturedly) It is, but thank God, after 21 years of training and killing my body, I'm chilling. I'm bringing up three kids, and yeah, I'm doing the eating, of course, and I deserve to. After 21 years of training, a five-time world champion, now multi-fly and swimming in cho-chi! - why not?

Smith: You wouldn't rule out a comeback, no matter how mad the idea sounds?

Naz: Boxing will always be in my heart. I'll always love boxing. I'll never say to you I'm retired. I've never been retired. I've had a nice break - it's been a bit long! But I may come back. We (he and commentator/interviewer Smith) were good, we were good!

I must say, Hamed was very funny and came across as a good guy. In not taking himself too seriously (I thought he'd go nuts when Smith made the crack about his big belly!) Naz was very likeable. And, yes, he was almost certainly just joking about fighting again - as his wide eyes and even wider grin showed - but you never know for sure. The great, back to his old form win by Rhodes, could possibly rekindle the old desire in Hamed, too. If Rhodes, a fighter no-one is ever going to call a better talent that Naz, can recapture old glories, why can't the 34-year-old who has only been beaten one time?

In any case, it was good to see Hamed back out in public for once, and the short interview he gave reminded viewers how personable he can be when he wants to be.

Article posted on 20.04.2008

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