Boxing: April defence in Manchester next step for Hamed

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NASEEM HAMED will make the next defence of his world title at Manchester's Nynex Arena on 18 April.

Hamed, who successfully defended his World Boxing Organisation featherweight crown against Kevin Kelley in New York before Christmas, looks set for a busy schedule in the United States. But this time, Hamed, who has recently married, wanted to exchange a few home comforts for a place on the American fight scene. His promoter, Frank Warren, agreed to his wish and is likely to announce an opponent for Hamed next week.

"I wanted the fight to be in England. I like it, I'm comfortable," said Hamed before preparing for the 10th defence of his title. "And I'll be comfortable in Manchester, ready to knock somebody out and hopefully fighting for another belt."

The fight will go on at 11.30 (BST) in the evening to fit in with the schedules of Hamed's American cable network paymasters, Home Box Office.

Also on the bill will be the World Boxing Council champion, Luis Espinosa, defending his title against an Englishman. Warren, who now promotes Espinosa, would not be more specific, but it seems likely that all this is leading up to a unification match between Hamed and Espinosa some time this year.