Naseem Hamed unleashed a right uppercut to knock Tom “Boom Boo
LONDON (AP) _ Naseem Hamed unleashed a right uppercut to knock Tom ``Boom Boom″ Johnson out in the eighth round Saturday to add the IBF featherweight title to his WBO crown and likely end the American’s career.
The unbeaten 22-year-old British fighter had Johnson wobbling with his unorthodox long-range shots in rounds three and seven before ending the contest at 2:27 of the eighth.
That was five rounds longer than he’d expected as Johnson made things difficult for him in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
But Hamed, whose ambition is to win the WBA and WBC titles as well, had too much firepower for an American who was making his 12th defense.
``Tom is a great fighter, a heck of a fighter but now I’ve taken over,″ Hamed said. ``I have total respect for the guy. But no one else has knocked him down to make him stay there.
``I was not losing control in the middle of the fight. I was biding my time. I laid a brilliant uppercut to take him out.
``I’m a legend soon to be. I’m going to bring everything back here, back to Britain.″
All three judges had Hamed ahead. American Al de Vito scored it 69-63, Vicor Salomon of Mexico had it 69-65 and Michael Benitez of Puerto Rico 69-64.
Johnson, now 44-3-2, shaped up with his hands-up, orthodox style and Hamed stayed distant, hardly throwing punches but occasional firing from long range.
In the second, Hamed landed a couple of long-range rights but the IBF titlist countered with a left hook that found the WBO champion’s chin.
Hamed said he would finish in the third and he almost got it right. A left-right combinmation had Johnson in dire trouble on the ropes and, when the flurry ended, Hamed smiled in a sneering way at the American. But Johnson lasted the round, ending it with a left that hit Hamed on the chin.
Hamed again connected with long rights but Johnson, seemingly recovered from the third round, came back with shots to the head.
By the fifth, Johnson was landing the better shots and, with Hamed going for a big-punch ending, stunned the British fighter with an overhand right that jolted Hamed’s head back.
Johnson started the sixth going forward for the first time in the fight and landed another right that wiped the smile off Hamed’s face a minute from the end of the sixth.
Hamed had barely thrown any serious punches for two rounds but for a flurry near the end of the seventh which had Johnson in trouble again.
A long right stunned the American and it was followed by a left which had him reeling across the ring. Johnson was in his own corner in the middle of another onslaught when the bell saved him.
In the eighth, another fierce combination had the American cornered and the Briton finished the fight with a powerful right uppercut and Johnson collapsed on the canvas.
He got up as the count reached six but referee Rudy Battle put his arms around the American and halted the fight.
Hamed weighed 126 pounds, Johnson 125 1/2.
On the same card, Ireland’s Steve Collins won his sixth defense of the WBO super-middleweight title when the ringside doctor decided a cut above the left eye of French challenger Frederic Seillier was too bad for him to continue. The fight was stopped at 2:20 of the fifth.
Britain’s Robin Reid scored a knockout victory over South Africa’s Giovanni Pretorius in the seventh, flooring him three times for a successful first defense of the WBC super-middleweight title.