Naseem Hamed/Wilfredo Vasquez Report
by PusboilHBO in what seems to be their new tradition of showing one fight a night, brought us Naseem Hamed against veteran and three time champion Wilfredo Vasquez last night. One fight a night?? Even FOX shows more than that!!!
As usual for Hamed, there were fireworks, music, and some dancing. Along with a walk to the ring that can only be compared in length to how a convict feels walking to his own execution. If you couldn't guess, I'm no Hamed fan. I will admit he's a damn good fighter but just can't seem to get into him.
We have reports on last night's action from Pedro Fernandez, Derek Cusack, Thomas Gerbasi, Chris Bushnell and BoxngRules for your reading pleasure.
by Pedro FernandezIt wasn't what I would call "vintage" Hamed, because the 24 year old has had only 30 fights. And only a handful of them were against legitimate world rated fighters. But Ham-head (as I like to call him) did destroy what was left of former WBA three time kingpin Wilfredo Vasquez Saturday night in the UK.
But it was in no means as exciting a matchup like the one the WBO champ put on with Kevin Kelley in December. This time Ham-head had a little bit of respect for his adversary as he patiently lured the 37 year into some "Ham-head heat."
Mainly the left cross. There was nothing spectacular about Naseem in his obtaining his 28th knockout in 30 ring appearances. But he did put together some pretty good one-twos from the outside. The punches that landed cleanly either hurt or knocked Vasquez. down. Simple as that. Ham-head's power was "again" the dominant force.
Right after the Hamed-Vasquez fight was shown on HBO, Kevin Kelley was my guest on Ring Talk, a radio show I host on the TALK AMERICA Radio Network Saturday and Sundays at 11 PM ET. (Live Internet audio at www.talkamerica.com) and Kelley was livid. "There's no contract. I haven't seen nothing. He said he brought out the girl in me. Man, that was my line. I exposed him. I brought out the girl in him."
"HBO doesn't want to put this fight on just yet. Cause after I fight Hamed, he'll only have one fight left. And I'll beat him in the rematch."
Putting the "Flushing Flash" on the spot wasn't hard for me. Kevin, I've got to ask you. How can you have a guy down three times and lose the fight?
"I just got over anxious. (Changing the subject) Hey, There was Ali-Frazier, Duran-Leonard, Hearns-Leonard, all these great fighters had great fights with each other. Me and Naseem is the Ali-Frazier at featherweight."
In losing, Vasquez., now 50-8-3, 37 KO's, picked up $500,000 which was by far his biggest purse in 16 years as a professional. The Puerto Rican had held WBA crowns at 118, 122, and 126 lbs. The 126 lb. (featherweight) diadem was given up in order Vasquez. could meet Hamed. (The vacant WBA crown was recently filled when Freddie Norwood upset Antonio Cermeno a fortnight ago.)
Ham-head said he wants Kelley next. Probably in July in Sheffield, England. The "Flushing Flash" can't wait!
Notes: Chris Eubanks and Carl Thompson went to war for 12 rounds. And at the final bell, the loser and winner were Chris Eubank. The former WBO beltbearer at 160 and 168 lbs. had opted on a move to cruiserweight because Eubank and company knew they stood little chance against the WBO 175 lb. ruler Dariusz Michalzewski But the always boring Eubank put up an incredible gut check fight with the naturally bigger Thompson, who too, is a Brit. Even though he decked the WBO 190 lb. guy, Eubank couldn't finish him. Nor could he handle the grueling effects of fighting a larger man.
Still, Chris hung tough and looked "horrific" after 36 minutes of war. The two fighters hit the ropes sop hard and often, that a rope ended up breaking in the Hamed-Vasquez fight and the match was held up as the rope was removed and the fighters were allowed to finish the contest with three instead of four ring ropes.
Lou Duva's David Tua scored a third round KO over 14-15 Cleveland Woods Saturday night in San Francisco to go to 30-1, with 25 KO's.
IBF feather weight champ Hector Lizarraga defends his IBF 126 lb. honors Friday in San Jose against two time (IBF-WBC) champ Manuel Medina of Mexico. It's a co-promotion with Cedric Kushner bring in his CKSN TV cameras to televise a card on the home dish network USSB, while Northern California Godfather Joe Gagliardi handles the live gate. Besides the IBF tiff, unbeaten WBU 122 lb guy Carlos Navarro will look to go 15-0. And "HOT" South African feather Cassius Baloyi, 18-0, with 8, goes against Sergio Liendo in a 12 round scrap that will raise the television curtain. The site will be the San Jose Arena. It holds 20,000 for boxing. There is about 2,200 seats sold as of this morning. Since a walk up is about 25 % of the gate, you have to figure this fight will do about 11,000 paid.
Tomorrow night it's Guty Espadas against Agapito Sanchez. I Like Agapito to stop the son of the former WBC fly guy Guty Sr.
Tuesday night on USA, it'll be Hasim Rahman in a walkover. Mr. Sominex, Larry Donald is also featured in a 10 round go.
Add Mario Lespearance to the name of those willing to come out of retirement and fight Paul Nave, who just three weeks ago faced a "passive" Greg Haugen. First I said, I'd come out at 40 and drill him. Then former top five rated 140 lber. Andy Nance, also a Marin County boy got ticked when he read the answer Nave spewed when asked about he and Andy duking out. "Andy would have to have a couple of fights before he would be at my level." Andy FREAKED! Lesperance is a former United States amateur champ who has lost only three times. "I left two messages on his (Nave's) answering machine. I thought he was out of town. Turns out he wasn't. Paul knows he can't fight." A real boxing fan now must cringe while driving down Highway 101 in Marin County because low and behold there's a billboard that says. "Paul Nave World Champion." And Milli Vanilli deserved their Grammy Awards. And I wasn't the only worthy scribe who thought Haugen went in the tank against Nave on ESPN 2. "I thought Haugen took money not to fight" said Jay Heater of the Contra Costa Times.
Michael Wells has stepped down as head of the California Athletic Commission. Wells simply couldn't handle the pressure. With the job up for grabs, I want San Diego D.A. Pat Russell to go after and then accept the gig. He has a boxing background in being a world class referee, and his law enforcement background includes quite a bit of administrative work. FEMALE BOXING HEAD FOR CALIF? Kathy Bradbury, an aide to Wells, and Richard De Cuir before that, has hinted that she might go after the position. "I know this office, I can do the job. And if people are worried about me being a female, I'm more assertive than any of the guys I've worked with." One of the best boxing magazines in the world is British Boxing Monthly. The editor is Glynn Leach, an incredible writer seeing he has to deal with the UK libel laws..
The writer has his own site at www.fighters.com and has for better than a decade hosted "Ring Talk" the insider's look into the world of boxing. Ring Talk is a syndicated radio show that air on the TALK AMERICA Radio Networks. On Saturday at 11 PM ET on TALK AMERICA 1, Ring Talk airs for two hours. The Sunday night edition of Ring Talk also begins at 11 PM ET and is aired on the TALK 2 Network. Both shows are carried live on the Internet at www.talkamerica.com in case Ring Talk doesn't air in your locale. I get a lot of e mail. Most of it good. Don't feel afraid to tell me what "you" think at email@example.com
Indian Rope Man
by Derek CusackTonight Naseem Hamed strongly reinforced his claim to be the best 9st (stone) fighter on the planet. He used his underrated boxing brain to outsmart wily Puerto Rican veteran Wilfredo Vasquez and become only the third man to stop Vasquez in a 61 fight career.
The action was interrupted for a good ten minutes due to the collapse of one of the ring ropes in round six, and this delay seemed to benefit Hamed. As soon as the action resumed - with a dangerous gap still present between the ropes - Vasquez made his first mistake by turning aggressor and was punished severely one round later.
This fight was somewhat of a chess match: Hamed and his ego hadn't enjoyed the wide criticism of his error - ridden New York performance, and his defensive skills were much more in evidence tonight. Vasquez simply stalked Hamed for most of the fight, waiting to counter the Prince with his own substantial power.
The result was a fight which was not a crowd - pleaser (apart from Hamed's brutal finish), but the crowd was pleased. Hamed turned in a mature, skillful performance and eventually dismantled a genuine challenger. Plenty for his justifiably proud home supporters to be pleased about.
The Undercard By Derek Cusack
The night kicked off with what was later called "the quickest fight in heavyweight championship history". This statement constitutes a large gob on the grave of James J. Jeffries, who earned this distinction in 1900 by stopping Jack Finnegan in 55 seconds of a real world title fight.
Herbie Hide returned to the ring after a disaster - ridden 10 month absence by knocking out Damon Reed in 52 seconds in defense of his We Be Obese heavyweight title. At this point, I wish to question the sexuality of "challenger" Reed. Tonight, he made Bruce Seldon's effort against Mike Tyson look absolutely heroic.
His sole claim to credibility was having lasted the distance with Dane Brian Nielsen, in a fight which most observers actually believed he won. Tonight however, Reed's outstanding achievement was managing to be cut horribly under his eye despite not throwing any punches and only catching three or four at most. Hide, hopefully, will go on to greater things. In his defense, he can only beat the man in front of him. Or woman.
In contrast to this fight, Chris Eubank's challenge for Carl Thompson's WBO cruiserweight title was the most thrilling war I have witnessed since Benn - Mc Clellan three years ago. Eubank had been written off by most experts given the fact that his last fight was contested in the super middleweight division, and his only ventures beyond 168lbs were two light heavyweight fights in Egypt over a year ago.
Thompson retained his title on a close points verdict, but I feel that Eubank actually beat himself tonight. He was expected to box on his toes against the bigger man, but he was game for a trade - off from the start. The eccentric showman shocked observers by rocking Thompson repeatedly from as early as the second round. However, he showed a glaring reluctance to stop his wounded foe just as he did after flooring Steve Collins in their first meeting.
Thompson visited the canvas in the fourth, and was on queer street plenty of times, but Eubank simply refused to do himself justice. I feel he has been gun - shy ever since that tragic night when he stopped Michael Watson and from which Watson never fully recovered. Understandable, yes, but Eubank needs to overcome this mental obstacle if he wishes to continue boxing. At this advanced stage in his career, his legs just can't carry him through twelve rounds of boxing and moving.
The action became increasingly brutal as the fight wore on, and Eubank was not helped by the fact that his left eye was fully closed by round seven. At this point, he began to get "sticky feet", and he absorbed more and more heavy shots from the hometown champion. Thompson was much fresher in the latter quarter of the fight: Although he is a year older, he has much less mileage on the clock than 51 - fight veteran Eubank.
I felt - and still feel - that Eubank's corner should have retired their man around the ninth. Although he was still in with a chance of winning by stoppage or even on points, the Brigton man's steel chin and unquestionable heart were serving him too well for his own safety. I didn't mind watching a fight which was comparable to Benn - Mc Clellan, but that's where I wanted the similarity to end.
So a badly battered Eubank went out on his shield and suffered his second successive loss. He may be wise to close his career on this admirable note, but the punters are already baying for a rematch. Thompson obviously furthered his cause tremendously by prevailing in such a war - especially given the dullness of his title - winning effort last October - but he can count his lucky stars that Eubank has lost his finishing instincts.
What It Takes To Be A Legend? Naz Outclasses Vasquez
by Thomas GerbasiFor a lot of fans, the excitement just wasn't there in Manchester's Nynex Arena last night.
No rock 'em, sock 'em action reminiscent of the Hamed-Kelley fight of last December.
The Prince seemed calm, and dare I say it, downright subdued.
Even his intro was actually trimmed to under ten minutes.
And yet, this may have been his finest performance
Hamed stepped into the ring last night battling accusations of having no chin, no defense, no balance, and no discipline. All he's got is heart and a punch, said the "experts" who witnessed his four round war with Kevin Kelley. And let's face it, while Vasquez was not considered good enough to beat Naz, it was believed that he would give him a tough way to go before making an exit. Uh-uh.
Vasquez was tentative from the opening bell, reluctant to engage with the bomber from Sheffield. His swings were wild, he lowered his eyes to the canvas whenever he threw a punch, and he just seemed generally unwilling to leave himself open for any of Hamed's blows. And we all know that you've got to take risks sometimes if you want to have your hand raised at the end of a fight.
Hamed wasn't as wild as he has been in recent contests, and he seemed willing to wait for his openings. He still got hit with a few shots he had no business getting hit with, but these punches had no effect on him. And when he did land, he jarred Vasquez, sending him to the canvas four times before referee Rodriguez stopped the fight at the 2:29 mark of round seven.
Vasquez, a fine three-time champion who has done nothing but bring honor to himself in his long (61 fights) career, was totally outclassed. Made to look amateurish by the very epitome of amateurish boxing, Vasquez was out of this one from the opening gong. At the time of the stoppage, I had Hamed throwing a shutout, 60 - 52. But don't expect any tears from Vasquez. He pulled in the largest purse of his career last night, and there is no shame in losing to the best featherweight in the world.
Best featherweight? Without a doubt. Who's out there to beat him? Kennedy Mc Kinney, Junior Jones, Derrick Gainer, and Kevin Kelley would all be early kayo victims. Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales would also get exposed by the Prince, and Wayne McCullough and Luisito Espinosa would both be game but outclassed against Hamed. In other words, at his leisure, Hamed will single-handedly clean out the junior featherweight and featherweight divisions. That alone, if he beats all the aforementioned fighters, will have him riding a first class coach to Canastota.
But can he stay on the straight and narrow for that long? Or will he read into the hype and the praise (including this column) and feel that he's ready to take on the big boys at 130 and 135? He's already spoken about it, and another couple of knockouts over a name featherweight or two will no doubt entice him further. And that's when reality will set in. Manfredy, Gatti, Mosley, Johnston. Those four names inhabit 130 and 135, and those are four names Naz should avoid getting too familiar with. And the point is, he doesn't need them. He may be boxing's biggest draw right now worldwide, and he is demanding large purses for whoever he fights. Luckily for us, he's taking on all comers, not shying away from the big match-ups. So, for his sake, hope that cooler heads prevail, and that Naz will avoid rising above 126 pounds. This brash English lad says he knows what it takes to be a legend. It's going to be fun to see if he can practice what he preaches.
by Chris BushnellPrince Naseem Hamed returned to the ring tonight for the first time since his four round war with Kevin Kelley in December. His opponent was the recently-stripped WBA 126 lb. champion, Wilfredo Vasquez. The fight was carried by HBO here in the United States, which only broadcast the main event from the Manchester, England site.
Vasquez entered the ring first. He was clad in a red and white robe with a king's crown. He brought along a breakdancer to kick it old school in the ring before Hamed's grand entrance. I'm not sure why.
Hamed's entrance was atypical of his previous ring entrances. Yes, it did last over 10 minutes, and yes there were lasers, smoke, fire, lights, fight clips, giant video screens, throbbing hip hop music and the obligatory glowing letters N-A-Z...but it did NOT feature a dancing Hamed. Most of the hoopla came before Hamed appeared, and once he did, he stood briefly at the arena entrance, and then made his way towards the ring. My guess at the time was that Hamed was concerned about not wasting energy with his pre-fight dancing. Indeed Hamed was coming into the ring tonight at 136 pounds. Not an above average post-weigh-in weight, but high for Hamed, who has traditionally come into the ring very close to his weigh-in weight.
After Michael Buffer made his Manchester debut and introduced the participants, the fight was on. Vasquez certainly looked as angry as he sounded earlier in the week when he stormed out of a press conference that Hamed had simply not shown up for. But his fighting did not reflect his rage. Vasquez circled Hamed, right hand cocked, in the first round, looking to establish his power as well as his patience. Hamed jabbed and stayed out at distance, showing Vasquez some in-ring respect that he had failed to show previous opponents.
For the most part, the fight unfolded as many had predicted. Hamed used his speed and power to dominate the older Vasquez. Vasquez attempted to counter the Prince for most of the evening. A significant right hand that temporarily wobbled Hamed in the second round was the most effective punch Vasquez landed all night.
Hamed, however, landed a number of power punches on the chin of Vasquez, dropping him four times (and throwing him down once, to boot) before the referee stepped in at 2:39 of the seventh round.
Hamed (30-0, 28KO) showed true championship form tonight. Although he still kept his hands at his sides for much of the fight (and was tagged as a result), he showed patience and poise. He failed to rush at Vasquez (50-8-3) the way he had with Kelley, even after several instances when he clearly had hurt the challenger with his punches. Hamed was certainly taking this challenge seriously. He did not stray from his southpaw stance and he was very aware of Vasquez's power, which blackened Hamed's right eye in the second round. He also showed tremendous balance, avoiding most of Vasquez's best shots by leaning back...sometimes at insanely reclined angels. What's more, the odd angled punches that looked so sloppy in the Kelley fight were put to good use tonight. Hamed's "corkscrew" lead uppercut is a devastating punch that comes out of nowhere. The only major omission in Hamed's game tonight was the absence of body work. While he did manage to land a few thudding right jabs to Vasquez's midsection, it was Wilfredo that did nearly all of the body work. Hamed should be criticized for head-hunting, but when you land the repeated power shots that he was able to put on Vasquez, then it's a criticism that can be overlooked.
Hamed clearly learned from his mistakes in December. His added knowledge only makes him that much more of a force at 126. And while I still think he'll find huge problems when he moves up to face the taller 130 lb. champions, the Prince demonstrated that at 126, he remains the division king.
-In the sixth round, one of the ring ropes collapsed. As workers tried unsuccessfully to repair the rope for over 10 minutes, the fighters stood in neutral corners. Vasquez got a much needed breather, and Hamed occasionally wandered over to promoter Frank Warren, who saw fit to not only give Hamed fighting instructions, but mime out what how he wanted Hamed to throw. Whatever. The ropes were eventually fixed by removing the rope entirely, and tightening what remained...but for awhile it looked as though the bout might have had to be stopped.
-Hamed must now not only defeat future opponents, but fight crime as well. What? Upon victory, the WBO crowned Hamed a SUPER-CHAMPION. He was presented with a brand new, specially made black WBO belt. What makes a SUPER-CHAMPION? Michael Buffer announced that it was bestowed on Hamed for 10 successful title defenses, but I suspect it had something more to do with thanking Hamed for sticking with the upstart sanctioning body instead of playing ball with the Big Three.
-Speaking of the WBO title, HBO needs to make a decision. Do they recognize the WBO title as a world title or not? I asked HBO boxing exec Seth Abramson if HBO recognized the WBO after an onscreen stat a few months ago that failed to recognize Jose Luis Lopez as a former champion. Seth replied that HBO did NOT recognize the WBO title as a world title. However, after promoting tonight's WBO fight as a bout for the featherweight world title, HBO contradicted itself on air in the form of snide remarks about Herbie Hide's WBO title bout earlier in the evening. Sure, Hide's opponent would have looked more at home vs. Butterbean than Hide, but disparaging his title as being from "one of these organizations" WHILE broadcasting a bout from the same organization is unfair.
-While Hamed came into the ring 11 pounds heavier than his weigh-in weight of 125, Vasquez also had problems making 126. His first weigh in measured him at 127 3/4. Half an hour of steam later, he made 126.
-If tonight's bout lacked the fire and brimstone of Hamed's last fight with Kevin Kelley, only part of the reason can be attributed to Hamed's more conservative fight plan. The Manchester crowd, which was drowning out Michael Buffer before the bout, was noticeably silent during the fight...even during Hamed's best moments. I'm not sure if English crowds are traditionally less rowdy DURING fights than American crowds, but a little cheering would have helped keep up the adrenaline that Hamed's entrance incited.
-HBO is always creative with their opening segments, but never have they been as offbeat as tonight's intro. Narrating clips of Hamed-Kelley was an actor wearing old-age makeup and bearing the subtitle "Naseem Hamed 2047" The concept was that Hamed as an old man was retelling the "legendary" story of his American debut. I'm not sure if it was Hamed under the makeup or an actor, but the premise was too absurd to take seriously, even for a moment. Much more fascinating was some footage HBO aired mid-bout of an 11 year-old Hamed boxing against another child. Even at a young age Hamed was clowning, at one point avoiding his sparring partner's punches with both hands behind his back.....I guess some things never really change.
"The Prince" Dazzles Millions
``Prince" Naseem Hamed impressed many people Saturday Night when he repeatedly knocked down 37-year old former 3-time champion Wilfredo Vazquez in the seventh of their scheduled 12-rounder.
Naz started out quickly by taking a fast-paced Round 1 with a succession of right hands. Late in Round 2, Vazquez connected with a solid right that nearly dropped Hamed. Hamed came back and took the remaining portion of the round.
Round 3 was the beginning of the end for the veteran Vazquez as he hit the canvas early in the round from a left hook. Hamed pounded Vazquez in Rounds 4 & 5, also. In Round 6, the next strange thing in boxing occurred as the second rope on the ring was terribly loose. After trying to tighten it, it appeared the rope had been broken from the extreme action in the undercard bout between Carl Thompson and Chris Eubank.
The fight was delayed for 5 minutes, and the result was they had to take off the second rope. Taking a risky chance that these two small featherweights could fly through into the press section. Earlier in the round, Hamed had dropped Vazquez for the second time.
In Round 7, which would turn out to be the final round, Hamed smashed Vazquez with right hands and put down the Puerto Rican early in the round. As Vazquez lay on the canvas, Hamed danced above him as if to say ``You can't do nothing to me, just stay down." But Vazquez courageously got up and fought on.
Hamed put down Vazquez an unprecedented fourth time seconds later. The true champion that he is, Vazquez got up once again but the referee Geno Rodriguez saved him from further punishment after 2 more Hamed rights had Vazquez stumbling.
Naz took his untouched record to 30-0, with 28 by way of KO and made the 11th defense of the WBO Featherweight title (Hamed-Kelley was one to never be forgot). Vazquez has now possessed a 50-8-3 record along with 3 title belts. I know I said previously he was a joke, but he has made me a believer. I mean, he is one of the most entertaining boxers on the planet.
4.19.98 [Return to Top]
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