By James Slater – I can vividly remember Emanuel Steward, who was training featherweight sensation Naseem Hamed at the time, telling an interviewer that Hamed would, in time, go down in history as the greatest featherweight of all-time. I was shocked by those words, coming as they did from a highly knowledgeable and respected trainer. No way did I agree then (the statement was made by Emanuel just prior to the Barrera fight, back in 2001) and no way do I agree now.
Just where then, does “The Prince” rank amongst the very best in featherweight history? Many will disagree, but to my mind he does not belong in a list of the top ten finest featherweights of all-time. In fact, when Steward made his amazing statement I fully believe the likes of Sandy Saddler, Henry Armstrong and Salvador Sanchez were turning over in their graves! And as for the truly gifted featherweight boxers from yesteryear who are still with us, along with quite a few from more recent years – some of whom are still active-they too must have at the very least raised an eyebrow or two upon hearing the lavish praise Emanuel was bestowing on his fighter at the time.