Currently a guest of honour in Saudi Arabia, for tonight’s WBSS super-middleweight final between George Groves and Callum Smith, former featherweight king, “Prince” Naseem Hamed says the fact that Saudi Arabia has finally opened its arms and embraced world championship boxing could mean big things for the future in the Middle East.
Hamed, speaking with Gulf News.com, spoke about how boxing was “forbidden” in the Middle East back when he was fighting in the 1990s and early 2000s. Naz also spoke about his own thrilling career, during which he earned an impressive 36-1(31) record (the sole loss coming at the hands of the great Marco Antonio Barrera of course).
Hamed, now 44 years of age and pretty much unrecognisable from his fighting days due to the vast amount of weight he has gained in the luxury retirement his ring fortune afforded him, spoke about how there is a film on him in the works, one that “God willing” will be released soon.
“My career was a gift that I am very happy about. I loved every step of it, Hamed said. “I was blessed. I won all the titles and I put my stamp on the sport. I’d been doing it for 21 years and was happy with my achievment in the sport, nobody did what Naseem did. I had my day, it was an amazing day, many years with big achievments. Only these people you see in the boxing game now can tell you and know how special I was. God gave me a gift and I used it with all my strength and power and now I have nothing to prove. Once a champ, always a champ. I held them titles, I was in the dizzying heights of boxing.”
To this day Hamed is a polarising figure in the boxing world. Some fans insist the Sheffield man who has Yemeni roots he is incredibly proud of them (“I’m public Yemeni number-one,” he quipped) is a true great, others say he was a great puncher but that he was found out at the highest level by Mexican legend Barrera.
It’s true Hamed was humbled by Barrera back in April of 2001, when he was shocked and hurt early on in the action as well as during a number of times throughout the fight, with Barrera also outboxing him in many of the rounds. And the fact that Hamed all but vanished after tasting his first loss (boxing just once ore before retiring with no official announcement) does not help his case as far as the history books go. Hamed says he has nothing to prove, but back in 2001, or 2002 he did have something to prove and he should have fought that rematch with Barrera (Naz had the rematch cluase but never used it).
Still, Hamed sure did put his stamp on boxing as he says. Truly exciting to watch and very possibly the single hardest featherweight puncher in all of boxing history (and that really is saying something) “The Prince,” for all his flaws (in and out of the ring) lit up the sport in a big way. For a while.
That movie could well prove to be fascinating and enjoyable viewing. Whether it’s a documentary or a bio-pic remains to be seen. Who could play Hamed if it is the latter?