Naseem Hamed (born February 12, 1974), commonly known as “Prince” Naseem or“Naz”, is a British Former professional boxer who competed from 1992 to 2002. He held multiple world championships at featherweight, including the WBO title from 1995 to 2000; the IBF title in 1997; and the WBC title from 1999 to 2000. He also reigned as lineal champion from 1998 to 2001; IBO champion from 2002 to 2003; and held the European bantamweight title from 1994 to 1995. Hamed is ranked as the third best British featherweight boxer of all time by BoxRec. In 2015 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Hamed was known for his unconventional boxing antics and spectacular ring entrances which included entering the ring on a flying carpet, a lift, and a palanquin, as well as 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, his highly athletic and hard’hitting southpaw boxing style, and formidable one punch knockout power; having finished his career with a knockout-to-win ratio of 84%.
Hamed vs Johnson
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.
Hamed vs Badillo
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.
Hamed vs Kelley
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 caliber 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.
Other title defences
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).
Hamed vs Soto
In October 1999 at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan, Hamed defeated WBC featherwight champion Cesar Soto of Mexico over 12 rounds, adding the WBC title to his collection and unified 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 by that point, at heavyweight.