Hamed lines up Barrera

Naseem Hamed's decision to relinquish the World Boxing Organisation featherweight title after five years and 15 defences will lead directly to a match in Las Vegas before May next year against Mexico's Marco Antonio Barrera.

Naseem Hamed's decision to relinquish the World Boxing Organisation featherweight title after five years and 15 defences will lead directly to a match in Las Vegas before May next year against Mexico's Marco Antonio Barrera.

Barrera, who holds the WBO's super-bantamweight title, is the fighter that Hamed's television paymasters HBO want for the British boxer's long overdue appearance in Las Vegas in what will be his first time on pay-per-view in the United States. "If they both enter the ring without belts the fight will be easier to make," admitted Hamed's brother Riath, who looks after the boxer's personal interests.

Hamed had been under pressure from the Puerto Rican-based sanctioning body to defend his title against their mandatory challenger, the Hungarian Istavan Kovacs. However, HBO in New York rejected Kovacs, who as an amateur won the world and Olympic titles, and told Hamed that if he fought him his purse would be reduced by 35 per cent.

"It is not our fault that this has happened," claimed Riath. "There was a problem with HBO because they didn't want the Kovacs fight. We are not prepared to take a pay cut. That is not realistic.

"The WBO wanted us to come up with a solution and we have worked hard to find a way to satisfy everybody but it has not been enough. We offered Kovacs a place on the undercard of Naz's next fight for good money. He said no," continued Riath, who insisted that existing deals with BSkyB in the United Kingdom and HBO in the USA would not be affected by Hamed's new status.

Hamed is the best featherweight in the world and has also won both the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council versions in unified title fights. He was forced to surrender both when it was obvious that his loyalties were to the WBO.

The WBO has benefited by collecting over $1m (£690,000) in sanctioning fees from Hamed since he beat Steve Robinson to win the title in Cardiff in September 1995 at a time when the organisation needed a main attraction. Hamed will now be the WBO's No 1 contender for his old title and will in theory be eligible to fight the winner of a title fight involving Kovacs and another, as yet unknown, fighter but only if HBO approve. It is farcical.

The stance taken by HBO's is the most alarming development so far in the ongoing power struggle between television money and boxing's traditional powerbrokers; the manager and the promoters. Kovacs is an excellent fighter and HBO's decision to reduce Hamed's pay because the Hungarian was not marketable sends a clear warning that being good is not enough.

Hamed's last opponent, Augie Sanchez, who was passed by HBO, had been knocked out in one round as a professional and failed to secure a place in the USA Olympic team for the 1996 Games. Kovacs is unbeaten in 18 fights and won a gold medal in Atlanta. "We are not matchmakers," said the head of HBO, Kery Davis. "We exercise our approval rights." In the case of Hamed against Kovacs it is more like abuse of approval rights.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
News
The 43-year-old rapper was stopped at the Lamezia Terme International Airport in Calabria after he had played a concert in the city on Friday night
people
Sport
Pedro has been linked with a move to Manchester United
transfers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen