Naseem Hamed vs Vincenzo Belcastro and Steve Collins vs Chris Pyatt DUAL SIGNED by Hamed INSCRIBED "Prince" and Collins INSCRIBED "To Ian Best Wishes" pre-fight publicity 8" x 10" photo billed, "Double Top!", 11th May 1994, Ponds Forge Arena, Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Hamed W unanimous decision
* Belcastro down once in the 1st and the 11th
Collins W TKO 5
Naseem Hamed; also known as Prince Naseem; born 12 February 1974) is a British former featherweight from Sheffield, England.
He is the former WBO, WBC, IBF, and Lineal featherweight champion, and European bantamweight champion. He also knocked out Wilfredo Vázquez who had just been stripped of the WBA title prior to their fight.
Hamed is rated by BoxRec as the sixth pound-for-pound best British boxer of all time.
Hamed was known for his boxing antics and spectacular ring entrances that have included entering the ring via a Chevrolet Impala, a flying carpet, a lift, and a palanquin; re-enacting the video of Michael Jackson's Thriller; and wearing a Halloween mask. He was also known for his front somersault over the top rope into the ring.
Since leaving the sport and being inactive for the best part of 10 years, Hamed has founded a sports management company and is managed by Clive Richardson, Questra. In 2015 Hamed will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.
Hamed was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England to Yemeni parents, in 1974. A prodigy of Brendan Ingle's Wincobank gym, his talent and flashy southpaw style marked him out from an early age.
Career - Early Career
Hamed started boxing professionally at Flyweight in 1992. He soon began rising through the ranks as he knocked out a series of opponents in the opening rounds. Age 20 he won the European bantamweight title, comprehensively beating the beleaguered Vincenzo Belcastro over twelve rounds. After one defence he added the WBC International super bantamweight title to his CV in 1994, overwhelming Freddy Cruz in Sheffield, whom he severely punished and stopped in six rounds.
Hamed's popularity grew, his unorthodox style winning a large fan base and his boxing antics generating a large group of detractors. After signing for Frank Warren, Hamed, employing more spectacular entrances, knocked out better opposition in Enrique Angeles and Juan Polo Pérez, both within two rounds.
World Featherweight Champion
Later in 1995, after controversially being named the WBO #1 featherweight contender (despite never having boxed at that weight), Hamed moved up to face Wales' defending WBO champion Steve Robinson. After dominating the bout and scoring a knockdown in round 5, Hamed won the title when the referee stopped the fight in round 8 after Robinson was caught with a left hook that dropped him spectacularly.
The fight was held in front of Robinson's home crowd at the Cardiff rugby ground, Cardiff Arms Park, with rain pouring down on the fighters and the ring.
His first defence came against Austria based Nigerian, Said Lawal, who was instantly knocked down from Hamed's first punch, then stopped in just 35 seconds after being effortlessly dropped again. This was the fastest World title fight ever held in Scotland, much to the displeasure of the crowd. Hamed's second defence was against undefeated Puerto Rican Daniel Alicea. Televised in the United States by Showtime, Hamed was carried to the ring on a grand throne, something which Hamed later stated he was not comfortable with. After a fast, lively start from Alicea, Hamed suffered a surprising brief knockdown in round 1, the first of his career. However, Hamed won the fight in his favoured round 2 with two knockdowns, the second of which forced the referee to wave the fight off instantly.
Hamed's next defence was in Dublin against former two-time World featherweight title holder Manuel Medina. After knocking Medina down heavily in round 2, Hamed struggled to finish the fight until finally knocking Medina down twice in round 11. The end came when the ring side doctor advised Medina's corner to stop the fight. Hamed revealed in his post-fight interview that he'd fought with a heavy cold. Medina would go on to have many more tough title fights, remarkably winning versions of the featherweight World title another three times. Hamed's next opponent was the 27–0 Remigio Molina of Argentina, who was stopped in two rounds.
In February 1997, Hamed defeated long-time IBF champion Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson in eight rounds in a unification bout at the London Arena. After being constantly stunned and staggered from round 3 onwards, Johnson was finally dropped by a huge uppercut, then saved from further punishment by the referee. Hamed's first defence of both the WBO & IBF titles was a first round KO of veteran British boxer and European champion Billy Hardy. Before the bout Hamed had correctly predicted he would win in round 1. The next defence was an easy two round win against a hugely outclassed Juan Gerardo Carbrera. Due to boxing politics involving the IBF's mandatory challenger, Hamed was soon forced to relinquish the IBF title.
In Hamed's hometown of Sheffield in October 1997, he produced one of the best performances of his career in defending his WBO title against Jose Badillo, whose corner entered the ring to stop the fight during round 7.
In late 1997 Hamed made his heavily hyped U.S. debut. His ceremonious arrival on the British Airways Concorde was covered by multiple media outlets. There, he and former WBC title holder Kevin Kelley fought in a highly entertaining bout.
This fight marks something of a watershed in Hamed's career, as he was forced, for the first time, to abandon his hands-down style of fighting throughout the entire course of the bout, given the calibre of Kelley. Nonetheless, despite suffering three knockdowns himself, Hamed put Kelley down for a third and final time to win by a fourth round knockout.
This was his first of many fights on HBO.
In 1998, Hamed enjoyed victories over former three-time WBA title holder and then Lineal champion Wilfredo Vazquez (TKO 7), former WBC bantamweight title holder Wayne McCullough (W 12), and future IBF title holder Paul Ingle (TKO 11; no relation to Hamed's then-former trainer Brendan Ingle). In October 1999 at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan, United States, Hamed defeated WBC featherweight champion Cesar Soto of Mexico over 12 rounds, adding the WBC title to his collection and briefly unifying the WBC & WBO titles.
Hamed soon chose to relinquish his WBC title due to his commitment to being WBO champion.
Had Vazquez not been stripped by the WBA of his belt (the WBA did not want their featherweight title unified with the WBO), Hamed would have had the distinction of winning all four World titles in a division, something only Riddick Bowe had achieved at heavyweight.
In March 2000 at Olympia, Kensington, London, Hamed knocked out former undefeated long-reigning IBF super bantamweight title holder, Vuyani Bungu of South Africa. The fight was ended with a single straight left hand, in one of Hamed's most impressive performances and biggest victories.
Hamed successfully retained his WBO title for the fifteenth and final time in August 2000 against Augie Sanchez at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, United States via a devastating fourth round knockout. Hamed broke his hand in the bout, and following surgery he spent half a year out of the gym, gaining 35 pounds in weight. Rather than face the unknown EBU Champion & WBO mandatory challenger István Kovács, Hamed relinquished his WBO title to pave the way for a Superfight with long-time rival, Marco Antonio Barrera.
Hamed vs Barrera
Eight weeks prior to the fight, which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on 7 April 2001, Hamed was 35 pounds overweight. At the end of training camp he still didn't make the weight, and arriving in Las Vegas he spent the two days before the fight trying to shed 2 pounds in his hotel, by shadow boxing in steam rooms and running on the treadmill at 5am. Marco Antonio Barrera had "trained like a monk" in the Mexican mountains, while Hamed trained in Bing Crosby's old house. Emanuel Steward had arrived to oversee the last two weeks of Hamed's training, including sparring, and was worried immediately. He had seen Barrera look razor sharp only a few months before in a stoppage win in Las Vegas, and watched Hamed look ragged in sparring with young Mexicans hired by the camp where his timing was woeful.
Hamed lost to Barrera via a unanimous decision, losing his Lineal championship. Hamed's record at the time was 35–0 and he was a heavy favourite with bookmaker's odds of 1/8.
After being wobbled in Round 1, Hamed could not hit Barrera with his trademark lefts as the Mexican boxer was equally quick and was not fighting defensively. His game plan was to circle around Hamed counter-clockwise to negate Hamed's powerful left hand punch. On one occasion early in the fight, Hamed grabbed Barrera and they both fell to the ground where Barrera threw a right jab, leading to a warning from referee Joe Cortez. In the 12th and final round, Hamed, still looking for the knockout punch, missed wildly with a left hand, resulting in Barrera taking the opportunity to trap Hamed in a Half Nelson hold and force his head into the turnbuckle, resulting in a point deducted by referee Joe Cortez. Ultimately, Barrera was more versatile and threw more impressive combinations forcing Hamed into going for ill directed power punches.
In an interview on Sporting Heroes aired on Sky Sports, Hamed stated that he regretted taking the fight, due to his six month inactivity and weight gain, and that he felt drained going into the bout. Despite the poor preparation for the fight, he admitted complacency had set in and that he never envisaged getting beaten, and added the multi million dollar offer from HBO was also a motivating factor for taking the fight.
On 18 May 2002 at London Arena, Docklands, London, Hamed returned to the ring for what turned out to be his final boxing match, against the European champion Manuel Calvo. In a post-fight interview with Ian Darke, Hamed assured a quick return to the ring, which ultimately never happened.
In an interview for Sky Sports, Hamed mentioned that part of the reason that he left boxing after this fight, aged just 28, was because of his commitments to his family, whom he would often not see for up to 12 weeks at a time whilst attending training camps. Hamed also gave an interview for BBC Radio Sportsweek and announced that his retirement was largely due to chronic hand problems, hand fractures and hand surgery.
Legacy And Impact
Hamed's boxing career is seen by many experts in the sport as one of unfulfilled potential. Frank Warren, the boxing promoter, once said of Hamed: "I think at one stage he was the most exciting fighter that I'd ever been involved with. At one stage, in the early part of his career, he could have gone on to become one of the great fighters. But that disappeared when he didn't fight as regularly as he should have done, when he was cutting corners on his training. It just didn't work out for him from that point on."
Moreover commentators have pointed out that Hamed's ability should have propelled him to achievements that would have given him legendary status, but that his noted dislike of the long hard training camps and long periods away from his family hindered this.
As popular lower weight fighters like Oscar De La Hoya and Kostya Tszyu moved into the mid-weight classes and the Mexican champion Julio César Chávez declined, Hamed and Arturo Gatti filled the void. Hamed's boxing antics made him the new poster-boy for lighter-weight boxers and his charisma attracted a large number of fans. In 2002 the UK public voted Hamed's victory over Kevin Kelley on the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.
Hamed was referenced by hip-hop artist Nas in the song "You Won't See Me Tonight", with the lyrics "I can't forget how I met you, you thought I was a boxer/ Prince Naseem, but I'm a mobster, Nas from Queens". Hamed himself recorded a song with hip hop group Kaliphz called "Walk Like a Champion", which reached number 23 in the UK Singles Chart in 1996.
British boxing pundit Steve Bunce stated on 15 March 2008 edition of BBC panel show Fighting Talk that Hamed was the greatest British boxer of all time. World Boxing, a sister publication of the more famous The Ring Magazine, ranked Hamed as the 11th greatest British boxer of all-time. The Ring also ranked Hamed as the 46th greatest puncher of all-time. Journalist Daniel Fletcher, in a 10-year anniversary commemoration of the end of Hamed's career, "Requiem for Naseem", referred to Hamed as "the most talented fighter to ever live", one of history's première featherweights and British boxers, and that while his career ended prematurely at the age of 28, he still managed to dominate his weight class for six years and boast some formidable achievements.
Hamed is part of the 2015 class for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Steve Collins, nicknamed The Celtic Warrior, was born Stephen Collins on 21 July 1964, in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland.
He is considered to be one of the toughest boxers of the past century, widely considered to be the hardest pound for pound fighter of the late 90s, having never been stopped in a high profile career. The Irishman was part of a golden age of European Super Middleweight boxing, along with Chris Eubank, Joe Calzaghe and Nigel Benn.
He was trained by Freddie Roach throughout his career. Collins started boxing professionally in 1986. However he was long considered the nearly man of boxing, after losing three World Title fights on points. It was not until Collins reached his 30s that he fulfilled his potential, becoming the WBO Middleweight champion and later the WBO Super middleweight champion.
He won 26 Irish titles at junior heavyweight, light-heavyweight and middleweight as an amateur before turning professional in Massachusetts, U.S. in 1986.
In Boston, Massachusetts in 1988, he defeated Sam Storey to win the Irish middleweight title, then defeated World #5, Kevin Watts, and won 16 successive fights before Mike McCallum outpointed him over 12 rounds in the WBA World middleweight title fight in Boston in 1990.
In 1992, he lost at the same weight to Reggie Johnson and to Sumbu Kalumbay in the EBU decider, before beating Gerhard Botes of South Africa to win the WBC Penta Continental title in 1993. Collins then based himself in Boston where he set up training camp. Alongside him was Paul "Silky" Jones, his sparring partner and good friend who later went on to become WBO champion but in the light middle weight division. Steve was trained by Freddie Roach in the Boston training camp and throughout his career.
In 1994 he defeated Chris Pyatt to secure the WBO middleweight belt. The following year he relinquished this title without a defence, moving up to super-middleweight and defeating the previously unbeaten Chris Eubank in Millstreet, Cork, Ireland to win the WBO title.
He defended this title successfully seven times (including a second meeting with Eubank and two fights against Nigel Benn).
Always one for a bit of a laugh, Collins said to The Sun newspaper in the buildup to the first Benn fight that he had been approached by ReadyMix concrete as they were interested in sponsoring his chin.
In the Craig Cummings fight in 1997, at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall, Collins was knocked down in the first 15 seconds of the fight (the third knock down in his professional career).
Collins climbed off the floor to insist it was a slip but with a cheeky grin at Cummings took the standing eight count. A total demolition of Cummings ensued and in the third round the referee stopped the fight with a very relieved Cummings leaning back on the ropes looking towards the sky. This turned out to be Collins' last professional appearance as he announced his retirement shortly after the fight.
Collins had said some years before that before retirement he would like to fight at Celtic's home ground. However, Collins was billed to fight Calzaghe and then at a late stage withdrew because of injury, had his title stripped, and then retired. Chris Eubank stepped in to take Steve's place in fighting Calzaghe, but for the then vacant WBO title.
Collins reportedly stated in the press that he had no motivation left as he had spent the best part of his career chasing Roy Jones Jr. for a unification fight that had been promised to him many times. A fight with Calzaghe would do nothing to satisfy the desire he had for fighting Jones. He then added he wanted to retire on a high note with a good pay day, "Joe is a good up-and-coming kid, but he wouldn't fill a parish church".
In 1999, he announced his decision to come out of retirement in order to fight Roy Jones Jr. Jones is said to have offered in excess of £3 million for the fight. Collins is said to have been suspicious regarding the money that Jones was offering and said to the papers that "for £3 million I would fight Mike Tyson"; this only spurred the spin doctors to assume it was a challenge at Iron Mike.
Controversy surrounded the fight as it was rumoured that Collins would have to fight Calzaghe first before a showdown with Jones. Collins had accepted this and started to prepare to fight Calzaghe. In his preparation training for the fight that was never to be, Collins collapsed during sparring. When doctors told him that blows to the head could result in his death, he retired for a second time.
He is reported to have stated in Boxing World that he has spent so long chasing Roy Jones Jr that money was not an important factor any more and that he would "fight him in a phone box in front of two men and a dog".
Collins retired with his then wife and children to the town of Bangor, County Down, with a record of: W 36 (21 KOs) - L 3.