Boxing: Veteran Puerto Rican next for Hamed at the Nynex

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NASEEM HAMED, the World Boxing Organisation featherweight champion, meets Wilfredo Vazquez, one of boxing's great survivors, at Manchester's Nynex Arena on 18 April.

The 37-year-old Puerto Rican's World Boxing Association title will also be at stake, provided he is allowed to delay his mandatory defence against Venezuela's Antonio Cermeno.

Felix Zabala, Vazquez's manager, said yesterday: "The WBA meet in Atlantic City on Saturday and, hopefully, they will allow Wilfredo to defend against Hamed, especially as he has been such a credit to the WBA, winning world titles at three of their weights."

Vazquez, a professional for 17 years, 60 fights and 20 world-title bouts, won the WBA bantamweight championship from South Korea's Chan-Yong Park in October 1987 and took the super-bantamweight crown from the Mexican, Raul Perez, in March 1992.

He then beat Eloy Rojas, of Venezuela for the featherweight title in May 1996 and has made four successful defences, the latest against Nicaragua's Geniro Rios last November.

Vazquez, who was in London for yesterday's media conference, said: "I believe Hamed is an excellent fighter with a strong punch. It will be a hard fight. When I have to fight, I do and when I have to box I can do that just as well."

Hamed was not present but sent a message via the promoter Frank Warren, saying: "I have the greatest respect for Wilfredo as a fighter, but he is going to get knocked out."

The pay-per-view Manchester bill will also feature the Philippines' Luisito Espinosa's defence of his World Boxing Council featherweight title against Cardiff's Steve Robinson and the WBO cruiserweight championship fight between Carl Thompson, of Manchester and Chris Eubank.