Prince Hamed To Box in N.Y.
NEW YORK (AP) _ The circus is in town, and the ring master, who also is the star of the show, is a self-proclaimed prince.
``You’ve got to watch the prince fight,″ said Frank Warren, the promoter of British-born Prince Naseem Hamed, whose parents emigrated from Yemen in the 1950s.
American fight fans will get that chance when Hamed defends the WBO featherweight championship against New Yorker Kevin Kelley Friday night at Madison Square Garden in a match that will be televised live on HBO.
``I’ve got big things planned for Madison Square Garden,″ said the 23-year-old Hamed. ``The entrance is going to be unbelievable, one of my best ever. It will be my best to date.
It’s not known what music will herald Hamed into the ring, but maybe it should be ``Baubles, Bangles and Beads.″ That song title also describes the prince’s boxing outfits.
The prince is a showman _ some people would call him a hot dog _ but he also is unbeaten, tremendously popular in Britain and a bit of a celebrity in the Arab world. His picture is on five stamps in Yemen and he does endorsements in the Gulf states, as well as in Britain.
He was given a rousing reception last week when he stepped off a Big Apple Bus Tours British-style double-decker for a news conference at an Arab restaurant in Brooklyn.
``At the end of the day, I’m British, I’m Arab,″ Hamed said.
Many of Hamed’s statements are prefaced by ``At the end of the day.″
Well, at the end of the day on Dec. 19, Hamed is positive that Kelley, a former WBC champion with a 47-1-2 record, with 32 knockouts, will his 27th knockout victim on a 29-0 record.
``His world will fall apart in the third round,″ predicted Hamed, a native of Sheffield, England.
Asked what he does to guard against over-confidence, the prince stared and said, ``I’m not overly confident. My confidence matches my ability.″
Hamed’s style is unorthodox, to say the least. He holds his hands low, throws punches from awkward angles and sometimes leaves his feet to throw a punch. So far, his speed and power have enabled him to get away with it.
He is exciting, and boxing all over the world is dire need of exciting performers.
A deal with HBO means that Hamed will be returning to the United States, but what may be the biggest fight of his career could take place next year in England.
Warren said he would like to see Hamed defend the 126-pound title against Junior Jones of Brooklyn, N.Y., in London during the Wimbledon tennis tournament in late June or early July.
Jones (44-2, 26 knockouts) will fight on the Garden card Friday night in a WBO junior featherweight title (122 pounds) against Kennedy McKinney (32-3-1, 18 knockouts) of Las Vegas, a former IBF junior welterweight champion.
Trainer Brendan Ingle believes Hamed is good enough to win titles all the way up through the 168-pound super middleweight class.
That might be reaching, but Hamed thinks he can win titles in several more divisions. If he does, he said, he will become King Naseem Hamed.