Hamed-MAB Hype

Hamed-MAB Hype

Post by Paul Dalrympl » Fri, 06 Apr 2001 08:44:47

By David Field, PA Sport Boxing Correspondent, Las Vegas

The prize and the time are right for Prince Naseem Hamed's fists to break
down the door to another bank vault.

One more fight after the crucial one against Marco Antonio Barrera here on
Saturday and his lucrative deals with American cable network Home Box Office
and Sky television will be ready for renegotiation.

A stunning success over Barrera would only serve to escalate the Prince's
already major earning power, which under existing terms promises to net in
excess of around 4million for his night's work at the MGM Grand Garden.

Hamed has been pulling in similar fortunes since his HBO agreement was put
into place just over three years ago. His name has become synonymous with
boxing wealth in the lighter divisions.

The Naz-cash element is no better illustrated than by a Barrera's top career
purse of around just under 1million for his audience with the Prince,
believed to be at least six times more than he earned for his high-profile
night against Erik Morales in Las Vegas 14 months ago.

The Mexican star, born 26 days before Hamed in 1974, seldom flashes a smile
across his serious features, but the bottom line of this contract must
surely have triggered a grin of satisfaction.

It has been labelled as the defining fight of Hamed's illustrious career,
although co-promoter Barry Hearn is viewing the whole picture in a business
sense and describes it as the most "commercially defining".

Hearn said: "Certainly that is the case as far as the television companies
around the world are concerned; this is the one they are waiting to see.

"He's got one more fight after this for HBO and the Sky contract will be up
for grabs. That's the job of his brother and business manager Riath rather
than mine.

"If you want to go to the table I would rather go to the table after a
showdown against Barrera where Naz has looked fantastic - the leverage that
gives you financially is enormous."

After Barrera, Morales could come next. And if Hamed cleans up the
featherweight division a significant career move could be made in the
direction of America's super-feather king Floyd Mayweather.

It is arguable whether Mayweather, for all his appeal, could strike a better
deal than one for tackling Hamed.

Hearn said: "The carrot starts dangling with Morales and Mayweather written
on it.

"The guys in TV run boxing more than officials do these days. You need to
have that extra power to your elbow of extracting the dollars.

"The interest in pay-per-view stations around the world seems to be the best
Naz has had for some time.

"So I think it gives Riath the opportunity of driving the type of bargain he
wants to drive for his brother, which is to get more money, which takes it
on to a new level."

There has been early talk of the fight pulling in an 800,000 armchair
audience across America.

That appears a high estimation and Hearn said: "I would think 500,000 would
be very acceptable for a fight of this nature, especially his first
pay-per-view fight.

"This is where the money is, with Naseem Hamed, if these guys want to earn
it. That would be the same for Morales and anybody else."

While Hamed prepared in the welcoming warmth of Rancho Mirage in Palm
Springs, Barrera preferred the mountain camp of Big Bear, California, colder
but possessing the benefits of altitude.

Though Barrera's home of Mexico City stands aloft at 7,000ft, manager
Ricardo Maldonado still saw value in his champion taking to the clearer air
of the peaks to train.

Barrera has been educated as a lawyer and his father is involved in the
movie business, so it is not a tale of Marco Antonio having to battle his
way out of any mean streets to reach the top of his profession.

Barrera was denied victory twice in Las Vegas in his second bout with Junior
Jones and then against Morales. Boxing worldwide pretty much agrees that
Barrera deserved the verdict against Morales.

But despite those experiences Barrera is showing no outward signs of tension
as the clock counts down.

He said: "I'm very experienced and I feel ready for this fight. I'm in my
best shape, I was at Big Bear for six weeks and I'll be on top of the world
if I beat Hamed.

"We are going to look for the knockout from the first bell - if it doesn't
come I'm in shape for the 12 rounds. I am ready for his style.

"He's a very good fighter, fought many champions and right now he is the
best at 126lbs - I think he needs somebody to put pressure on him from the

"I've faced many punchers in my career and I've been down only three times
in my 54 fights.

"Other opponents have said they are going to knock me out inside four rounds
and nothing has happened and I don't think it is going to happen this time.

"All the trainers and fighters say I'm one-dimensional kind of fighter, but
we will see what happens in this fight.

"I've been waiting for four or five years for this to happen but I feel more
experienced now.

"I'm fighting the best featherweight in the world. He has punching power
with 31 knockouts in 35 fights - but I've got more knockouts."