Boxing: Hamed criticises Espinosa

THE WORLD featherweight champion Naseem Hamed claimed yesterday that he believed Luisito Espinosa, of the Philippines, was afraid to fight him for fear of losing.

Hamed, due to defend his World Boxing Organisation featherweight title against a yet-to-be-named contender in November, said he has offered to fight Espinosa on five separate occasions, "but he keeps refusing".

Espinosa, a former long-time World Boxing Council featherweight champion, lost his title to the Mexican Cesar Soto on 15 May in an unanimous 12- round decision.

Asked why Espinosa was backing off from facing him, Hamed said the Filipino was probably afraid. "I don't blame him. I don't want to fight with me," said the 25-year-old champion.

Hamed, who has an impressive record of 32 wins, no defeats, with 29 knockouts, expects to have his next fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on 6 November.

"We don't have the contender's name but he's likely to be Mexican," said Riath Hamed, the champion's brother and manager.

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