Recalling The Savage Naseem Hamed / Augie Sanchez War

Naseem Hamed - Boxing HistoryDuring the typical summer drought we boxing fans endure at this time of the year, with precious little boxing scheduled (although things pick up again later this month, with Pacquiao-Thurman and some promising heavyweight fights) it’s time to dig into the archives and pull out a classic. The fight recalled here is enough to fight off the cravings of any boxing junkie.

Naseem Hamed, arguably the single hardest-hitting featherweight in boxing history, scored his final thrilling, memorable ring victory against a tough guy in Augie Sanchez, and the fight – the all-out war – showed us in graphic detail how talented yet also flawed “The Prince” really was.

The fight, that took place in Mashantucket in the summer of 2000, became a quite sensational slugfest – with a ton of leather thrown from both sides, trips to the canvas from both fighters that could so easily have been scored as legit knockdowns, blood and finally a nasty KO. Indeed, the action that came thick and fast over four rounds was all but impossible to keep up with.

Skill-wise, Hamed, then 34-0, had slipped; his defence almost non-existent and his total reliance on his withering punching power bordering on total arrogance. “Kid Vegas” Sanchez, who holds an amateur win over Floyd Mayweather Junior, carried dangerous power himself and at times only Hamed’s underrated chin kept him upright.

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The second-round was WILD, as was the remainder of the short, incredible fight. Sanchez, 26-1, scored a knockdown, landing two rights that snapped back the head of Hamed. Blood now seeping from his nose, Hamed was lucky that referee Mike Ortega – who had a tough night, with plenty of work to do and nothing but split seconds in which to do it – made an error in ruling the knockdown a slip.

Sanchez, though, landed more hurtful shots throughout the remainder of the round and the fight; his lefts and rights seriously rocking Hamed’s head around. But Hamed had a big edge in power and he badly hurt his challenger on numerous occasions. Both men were marked up by the third-round, around the eyes especially. In this session, Hamed was again wobbled, yet he simply refused to keep his hands up.

The fourth-round saw Hamed put Sanchez, just 22 years old at the time, on the canvas, but then get a point taken off for hitting him while he was down – no knockdown was scored. Hamed seemed enraged, as well as obsessed with scoring a lights-out KO. This he did seconds later as he cracked Sanchez with a thunderous four-punch combination to the head. Sanchez, incredibly, tried to get up after being floored so heavily, but the fight was over.

Soon after being hit with what could be argued as the hardest punches the 25 year old Hamed ever threw and landed during his pro career, Sanchez was placed on a stretcher and was given medical attention. Thankfully he recovered, amazingly to the point where he fought again just five months later.

Hamed gave us a number of classics during his relatively short career, and many fans point to his up-and-down battle with Kevin Kelley as his most sizzling fight. Yet the blood, guts and power punches on display in the Sanchez fight might have made this Hamed’s second most thrilling bout.