Cash-wrangle Hamed gives up title

Prince Naseem Hamed, widely regarded as the world's top featherweight, has relinquished his WBO title in a dispute over a mandatory defence.

Prince Naseem Hamed, widely regarded as the world's top featherweight, has relinquished his WBO title in a dispute over a mandatory defence.

The undefeated Hamed, who has held the title since 1995, refused to fight No 1 contender Istvan "Koko" Kovacs.

The fight was due to take place in England on November 4.

Home Box Office, the American cable television network which screens Hamed's fights, said it was not satisfied with Kovacs' credentials and was offering Hamed only a fraction of his usual purse.

Kovacs is now likely to be matched against Mexico's Marco Antonio Barrera for the vacant title, with Hamed to face the winner.

In his most recent fight, Hamed retained the WBO title by stopping Augie Sanchez in the fourth round of their fight in August.

Hamed is 35-0, with 31 KOs.

Boxing fans have been clamoring for Hamed to fight either Barrera or Erik Morales, both super bantamweights.

Hamed's brother and business manager, Riath, sent a letter to WBO president Francisco Valcarcel informing him of the decision to give up the belt.

"Naseem is unable to fulfill his mandatory obligation due to HBO not approving Koko Kovacs as an opponent," he wrote.

"In order to maintain the excellent relationship that we have enjoyed for the last five years, I would like to notify you of Naseem's decision to vacate the title.

"Upon vacating the title, Naseem would still like to be rated No. 1 to allow him the option of fighting for the WBO belt again in the not too distant future."

Naseem Hamed insists losing his title has cleared the way for bouts against the world's best nine-stone fighters.

He came to a mutual decision with the WBO to give up his belt.

Hamed's American cable television paymasters HBO would not meet his purse demands for a fight which they considered a mismatch, but which the WBO - who ranked Kovacs their number one contender - insisted upon.

The WBO is now likely to make a fight between Hungarian Kovacs and Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera for the vacant title, with Hamed first in line to fight the winner.

But the now title-less Hamed, who has come under fire from HBO for not fighting the division's biggest names, today suggested he would shun the sanctioning bodies and pursue the fights that matter.

He said: "My decision stems from my desire to fight the world's top fighters, battle-tested world champions, rather than the manufactured contenders of boxing's governing bodies.

"I carried the WBO belt for five years and defended it 15 times against 10 world champions. My victories over the WBO, IBF, WBA and WBC title holders make me the true featherweight champion of the world."

Hamed has suffered from the farcical nature of boxing politics since he was forced to give up the IBF title he won from Tom Johnson in 1997 when he refused to meet their little-known mandatory contender Hector Lizarraga.

Hamed subsequently beat WBA king Wilfredo Vazquez - who was stripped for agreeing to meet Hamed - and WBC champion Cesar Soto, but was denied that belt because the WBC refuse to recognise WBO champions.

"The titles claimed by Derrick Gainer, Paul Ingle and Guty Espadas are political gifts and each wears a paper crown until they face the true champion," Hamed added.

And Hamed sent out a challenge to Barrera, the man he is still pencilled in to meet in his first fight next year.

"My immediate goal is to fight the man widely considered the greatest threat to my dominance of the featherweight division, the great Mexican champion Marco Antonio Barrera.

"Marco Barrera, hear this: I hereby challenge you to face me, man-to-man, in the first quarter of the year 2001, at a site to be determined, for the linear featherweight championship of the world, with the winner to be recognised as the one true featherweight champion."

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin