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The Independent Online

Hamed, 31, has broken his silence to talk about his only defeat as a professional, fatherhood, boxer Ricky Hatton and perhaps more importantly, and certainly most interestingly, a possible return to the ring.

The last time Hamed fought was in May 2002, when he easily beat Spain's Manuel Calvo in a bizarre fight that was an extremely disappointing final encounter of a truly brilliant career. The previous year Hamed had lost for the very first time when he fought like a novice against Mexico's Marco Antonio Barrera and in the months after this feat many people in the business were shocked that Hamed never pushed for a rematch.

"Barrera beat me fair and square, hands down, and I am the first one to say well done," said Hamed, 55 months after leaving the ring in Las Vegas. "You have to take victory and defeat like a man. I will never make excuses for that night."

Hamed claimed the reason he has been in exile was to allow him more time with his two young sons and his wife, but he hinted that he is now ready and that there are people keen to see him return to action. There is allegedly a contract for six fights in America, from an unknown TV company, just waiting for his signature.

"Realistically, I am still very young, and I've not had too many beatings. In fact, for 20 years I've fought as an amateur and a pro and, in my opinion, I only lost once and that was against Barrera."

If Hamed can step back into the ring before his birthday next February he will still be younger than the current World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation champion Juan Manuel Marquez and the World Boxing Council champion Injin Chi, both of whom are 32.

"I took time out of boxing to spend with my kids and my family and I didn't want my life to be completely taken up by the sport. I started boxing at the age of seven and it was my life for too long, but after the break I feel fresh," Hamed said.

It appears that Hamed's interest in the sport, which he came to dominate so prominently a decade ago, has been stirred by Manchester's Hatton. In 1997 Hatton fought on the undercard when Hamed knocked out Kevin Kelly at Madison Square Garden and in June of this year Hamed watched Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu to win the IBF light-welterweight title and gain the full respect of everybody in the sport.

"It was the most fantastic fight that I have ever seen and I wish I had been there. Hatton beat the best in the division, a modern legend, and you can now make a case for saying Hatton is the best in the world at his weight," Hamed said.

Hatton defends his title in Sheffield on 26 November and Hamed has promised to appear in public for the first time since he left the ring after beating Calvo to watch his friend fight.