Tonight in Newcastle Naseem Hamed defended his WBO Featherweight
Crown against the No.1 contender Daniel Alicea and retained his
title in 2 rounds but had to go through a scare by suffering the
first knockdown of his career.
Full report now follows;
Prince Naseem Hamed's fight with Daniel Alicea was expected to
be the toughest of his career and in the end it was, although not
if you assessed it in length.
Before the fight, the boxers diplayed their preparations with
various extremes. Alicea was focused, concentrated and talking to
himself while having his hands taped, Naseem at the other end of
the scale was challenging Frank Warren (his promoter) to a game of
Tekken on the Sony Playstation while wearing a Newcastle United
football shirt with 'Naz' stenciled on the back.
The entrances also displayed various ends of a scale with
Alicea's pretty low-key, and Hamed's as usual verging on the side
of cinema. It began with a view of smoke flowing over his
entrance so nothing could be seen behind it, then two rose bearers
came through the entrance, with Naseem close behind carried on a
pedestal by four men as is he were some ancient Egyptian pharoah,
the boy definitely adds something to the glamour of boxing (even
if it doesn't completely please the purist).
When the first round began, Alicea came out looking
purposeful, the entrance certainly hadn't fazed him, his guard was
tight and his punches were sharp. Naz as usual dropped his hands
and weaved around on his ***y torso, Alicea though was getting
through and looked good as he landed a few on Hamed's constantly
exposed chin. With any other fighter this type of defence would
be suicidal (except maybe Roy Jones Jr.), but Hamed turns it into
advantage because of his flexibility he can use his chin as a
target to draw his opponent out.
Tonight though, things went slightly against plan as Alicea
cracked in a beautifal right (a similar punch to the one that
Frankie Liles had used to poleaxe Tim Littles earlier in the
evening) to Hamed's chin that snapped his head round, he didn't
appear shaken but the right that followed caught him again,
slightly off-balance and Naseem suffered the first knockdown of
his career. When he got up at the count of two he appeared more
embarassed than shaken and even managed to offer Alicea a few
taunts as the round concluded.
The second round offered us the last of the night's extremes
as Hamed left his showboating in the corner and stepped up a gear
to destroy Alicea and show his champion spirit. His chin was no
longer so exposed and the punches were now accurate and more
importantly powerful. A few minutes into the round a straight
left crashed into Alicea and wobbled his legs severely, an arm
punch followed but it was all that Hamed needed to floor the
Puerto Rican challenger for a mandatory eight count. Alicea got
up but was shaken, and Hamed was increasing the pressure on the
troubled challenger when with about 20 seconds left of the round a
right to the side of the head followed by a straight left through
the guard left the challenger on the canvas for good, the glazed
eyes told the story and the referee called a halt to the bout.
Hamed said afterwards; "I'm never going to get beaten. I will
never lose. I want to box the best fighters in the world because
I'm the best."
When questioned about the knockdown; "It felt so good. The
guy hit me with a good shot and I went down but I got back up and
put him away. I could have boxed better than that, but I hit him
so hard, it was just 'BOOM' there you go!"
Hamed also offered challenges to Marco Antonia Barrera and
Azumah Nelson. Frank Warren though would not be drawn on who
Naseem's next opponent would be, although he said an announcement
would be made during the week. There are rumours of a match on
the Tyson undercard.
Opinion; Personally, I think the knockdown was the best thing that
could have happened to Naseem. He now knows he's not
indestructible, and his method is not yet perfect but he does know
he can take a world class punch from a good fighter (who I think
could be a world champ within the next year) and come back with so
much better. To beat Hamed I think you need fast hands and
one-punch KO power which I don't see in anyone around at the
Also, the knockdown could help his marketability because
fighters who once may have refused a fight with Hamed may now
accept because they think they may have at last an outside chance.
But there's still a long way to go until the Prince becomes King.
Groucho Marx Fan Club UK HQ
"Hamed....The Prince born to be King"