Naseem Hamed: Bloody Brilliant

04.08.08 - By Michael Klimes: In the more mundane and sedate moments of my life I am a youtube wanderer or maybe even a junkie? Obviously, it is a sad state I have fallen into despite my youth. What will I become in thirty years if God willing I make it into my fifties? About a month ago I decided to type the name Naseem Hamed into the youtube search engine and many items presented themselves. I was spoilt for choice as I examined the menu I was given. Should I go for a light aperitif or a full blown meal? I decided to go for the former as I had a sense that just glimpsing Hamed would intoxicate me. Indeed, I was right. I saw Hamed being interviewed by Sky Sports and he discussed the subjects of Ricky Hatton, Floyd Mayweather and of course himself. You can follow the link here to see for yourselves:

Although Hamed has not boxed in years his tongue has lost none of its edge and his confidence none of its sharpness. His observations about Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather are articulate and balanced. However, the interviewer cannot help but steer the conversation onto whether ‘The Prince’ will return. The excitement in his voice is palpable and Hamed harnesses the energy of the situation and splendid banter ensues. Hamed’s reminiscing of his considerable career is interspersed with clips from it including the outrageous entrances and scintillating knock outs. It is beautiful.

I grip my chair every time I see this. I am thrilled. Who cannot help but feel exhilaration and perhaps a slight poignancy when Hamed declares, “You can never underestimate the Prince. I’m always there. The Prince will never die.” This is clearly not true. He then gives deliberate and calculated look at the camera with a glint in his eye and says, “I ain’t bragging but I ain’t seen nobody and I mean nobody come to ring in such style, in such flair, charisma. I’m talking…I’m talking about bringing it all…the full package. Who do you know who can come out on a flying carpet Adam? P Diddy standing at the bottom…come out like a concert with dancing…like oozing confidence and then take somebody out. Come on! Do you know anybody else in the history of the sport that did what Prince Naseem Hamed did? I ain’t trying to brag but I was bloody good.”

The classic Hamed traits are all here: The tongue and cheek performance, distinct Sheffield accent and mischievous eyes almost seduce me into believing he could come back, almost. Afterward, Jim Watt and Nicky Piper deliver brilliant assessments of Hamed’s achievements and chances of returning. I miss Hamed immensely like Piper and share the sentiment; he is my most favourite British fighter of all time. Similarly, I have to admit there is no fighter in the sport today who excites me like Hamed did in his spectacular prime. It is shocking to think that even though Watt states very fairly that the featherweight division “was not at its strongest” in Hamed’s unfocused reign he still managed to defeat Tom Johnson, Kevin Kelley, Manual Medina, Wilfredo Vasquez, Wayne McCullough, Paul Ingel and Augie Sanchez. That’s a pretty good list. Surviving twelve rounds against Marco Antonio Barrera was not bad either. He also developed the best screw shot punch I have ever seen.

Furthermore, his performances against Steve Robinson whom he won the title from in 1995 at just twenty one years of age and the knockout of Said Lawal in his first title defence were stunning. Watch them again if you do not believe me. Add his style into the cocktail, a cross between Herol Graham and Pernell Whitaker but with unheard of power in his division and you have a special fighter. Surely, Hamed is one of the greatest featherweight punchers of all time?

Hamed’s final record is a total of thirty seven fights, all those he was victorious in except the loss to Barrera. He retired at only twenty eight having made millions and being one of the most loved and hated sportsmen in the world. Ironically, Hamed it seems did not come back because he is a devoted family man. This is something a little paradoxical since he appeared to drown in the limelight. Still, the distracted Hamed was the best featherweight in the world for five to six years and made fifteen defences of his original title. He travelled across the globe and dazzled spectators. How good could he have been he had remain focused, stayed with Brendan Ingle and trained harder? We will never know and that is why I find Hamed so exasperating.

For once ‘The Prince’ was humble, “I was bloody good.” Yeah right Hamed. You were bloody brilliant.


If anyone wants to read a longer article which explains my more extensive thoughts on Naseem Hamed they can read it here

Article posted on 04.08.2008

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