Boxing: Hamed under scrutiny in first title defence: Spotlight set to fall on champion after clowning that marred European bantamweight triumph

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The Independent Online
THE spotlight will fall on the behaviour of Naseem Hamed when he defends his European bantamweight title against Italian Antonio Piccardi at the Hillsborough Sports Centre tonight.

When the 20-year-old won the title, in only his 12th professional appearance in May, he was criticised for his final-round taunting of Vincenzo Belcastro.

Although he has not promised to eliminate the showmanship completely, he has pledged to 'settle down a bit'. Britain's youngest-ever European Boxing Union champion said: 'I've established myself now, that is the main thing. I've no need to be as flash as I was. I don't regret it. Everybody's been talking about it and that has helped me to become established.'

Form indicates a Hamed victory as Piccardi, 31, has lost three times to Belcastro.

A three-times world champion, Duke McKenzie, will warm up for his attempt at title No 4 on the same bill. He takes on Mark Hargreaves, from Burnley. McKenzie, who will be making his first appearance since undergoing ear surgery, is due to challenge the World Boxing Organisation featherweight champion, Steve Robinson, on 1 October.

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