Boxing: Hamed's antics mask mentality of novice

Chris Eubank may have been a showman the public loved to hate but Ken Jones found Naseem Hamed's arrogance in victory at Sheffield Arena on Saturday unpalatable, especially in comparison to Eubank's humility in defeat

If it is unlikely to penetrate the distasteful arrogance Naseem Hamed again displayed on Saturday, when stopping Jose Badillo of Puerto Rico in the seventh round for the World Boxing Organisation featherweight championship, that there was a lesson for him in the admiration later bestowed on Chris Eubank.

A master himself of the hyperbole central to Hamed's career, and which makes it increasingly difficult to think of professional boxing in noble terms, Eubank nevertheless gave enough in some gruelling contests to suggest that a true fighting man was selling himself short.

Boxing is such a rough and dangerous business that Eubank was entitled to profit from a theory advanced famously by the showman P T Barnum, but undemanding matches that exploited the public's gullibility cost him international recognition.

When it was once suggested that Eubank's status in the middleweight division could be considerably advanced by a unifying contest against the World Boxing Association champion, Mike McCallum, his then promoter Barry Hearn, thinking only in box office terms, asked what the impressive Jamaican would bring. As put by a cynical bystander, the answer was danger.

Risk-taking did not figure prominently in Eubank's calculations and this, together with public expressions of contempt for boxing, cost him the respect of fellow fighters.

Ironically, it was in Saturday night's forlorn attempt to regain the vacant WBO title at the Sheffield Arena against a much younger man, Joe Calzaghe, that Eubank proved most endearing.

At the 12st limit, a weight he could no longer make comfortably two years ago, Eubank was powerless to keep off the Welshman who had him over in the first and 10th rounds on the way to winning by a wide margin on all three official scorecards.

Eubank, who will fight in future as a light-heavyweight, said: "A calculated gamble didn't come off for me. I thought I might just have this young man's measure but there is no doubt that he can fight and punch. The shot that put me down in the first round [a long left that sent Eubank sprawling backwards into his own corner] really hurt. Calzaghe proved to be very fit and strong, more than I expected. He could go a long way and I wish him luck.

"There isn't any reason to feel suicidal. I've only lost three fights in my career and I've always given value for money."

Eubank's spirit in the ring and his generosity afterwards were to Hamed's detriment. Because he has not yet learned to handle fame and is high on the acclaim of a generation that cannot see beyond the tedious glitz of presentation, Hamed leaves himself open to adverse criticism. Pleas for tolerance entered perhaps in the hope that he will accept a chance to grow up are unconvincing.

If through arrogance Hamed ignores the truth that all fighters are beatable, it could warp a highly successful professional life. Again on Saturday there were signs that Hamed is no longer listening closely to Brendan Ingle, the trainer who discovered and developed him.

In trying to take out a limited opponent with one shot Hamed revealed the boxing mentality of a novice rather than that of a champion who considers himself to be the best ever. "Who was better," Hamed asked disdainfully after his eighth successful defence of the WBO 9st championship. Such notables as Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler, Vicente Saldivar, Henry Armstrong and Jim Driscoll sprang immediately to mind, but a young man so full of himself is not inclined to dwell on history.

One of the official judges on Saturday was Stuart Winston who performed a similar function when Muhammad Ali as Cassius Clay took the heavyweight championship sensationally from Sonny Liston. "Ali taunted Liston and others he fought, so did Sugar Ray Leonard but not to the extent this young fellow does," he said. "I don't like it."

Permitting Hamed to carry on in this manner does not, to my mind, do him any favours because it may carry the seeds of self-destruction. Impressively quick and heavy-handed there is no question at all that he has a superior talent, but the evidence of Saturday's bout suggests that there are still gaps in education.

According to Hamed's promoter, Frank Warren, plans for him to fight at Madison Square Garden in New York on 19 December are close to completion with an official announcement expected later this month.

A possible opponent is Kevin Kelley who was at the ringside on Saturday. Kelley is probably past his best, but would be a more meaningful opponent than many who have been put up for Hamed's entertainment.

The way Hamed carries on in and out of the ring does not impress the New Yorker. "We've seen it all before from guys like Hector Camacho," he said. "What Hamed should remember is that style makes fights and nobody is invincible."

Another thing that Hamed should think about is that unless he mends his ways there are always going to be people in and around who can't wait to see somebody stick one on him.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Metail Ltd: Business Development Manager for Asia Pacific

£35,000 - £40,000 based on experience : Metail Ltd: As a Business Development ...

Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Owner

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product ...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - £17,000 Basic, OTE Uncapped

£17000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company are looking for a S...

Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line Technical Analyst

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 1st / 2nd Line Technical Anal...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate