Boxing: Shepherd delight at title win

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The Independent Online
CHARLES SHEPHERD has set his sights on a big money match with Naseem Hamed after claiming the vacant International Boxing Organisation super-featherweight title at the Sands Centre in his home town of Carlisle on Saturday night.

The Silloth fighter recovered from a horrific-looking cut in the second round to record a unanimous points win over the American veteran Tom Johnson, himself a former Hamed victim.

A clash with Hamed would represent a step down in weight and a step up in class for Shepherd, but he is confident of coping with both tasks.

"I'd love to fight Hamed and I could get down to featherweight, no problem," said the 29-year-old. "I've got one hell of a chin and I am sure it would be a great fight. Hamed is a great fighter but I've shown I'm in that class by beating Johnson."

Johnson, who held the far more prestigious International Boxing Federation belt at featherweight for four years and made 11 defences before facing Hamed in 1997, said: "Charles is a good pressure fighter. He has to get a little smarter, but if he takes in what he has learned from fighting me, he could go a long way."