Morales link for flawed Hamed

Naseem Hamed is being connected with a match against the highly regarded Mexican super-bantamweight, Erik Morales. Hamed's cable network sponsors, Home Box Office, is ready to include the bout on its agenda for late next year, but would first prefer to see more conventional fighting from the British boxer.

Naseem Hamed is being connected with a match against the highly regarded Mexican super-bantamweight, Erik Morales. Hamed's cable network sponsors, Home Box Office, is ready to include the bout on its agenda for late next year, but would first prefer to see more conventional fighting from the British boxer.

Normally, Hamed-Morales would rate as one of the more intriguing fights of 2000, but Hamed must rid himself of the rough-house elements which dominated his mess of a fight against another Mexican, Cesar Soto, here on Friday night.

The World Boxing Organisation and now the World Boxing Council featherweight champion has always gone about his business in an unorthodox way, but the body slam on Soto which brought him close to disqualification was a horrifying spectacle.

His new trainer, Emanuel Steward, will need to coax and coach some of the more basic elements into his game, such as more jabbing and a tighter defence, without forsaking any of his old power and excitement.

Against a man of Morales' calibre, he has to make it one of his priorities, though Steward has stressed that Hamed is unique and that he will not try to change him. Some fine tuning, though, is definitely in order.

It is a worrying trend which began with his reckless fight against Kevin Kelley 22 months ago. Hamed's last two appearances in America have ended in boos. Hamed has four more fights under his present HBO contract and the television company is clearly treating the Soto fight as a one-off.

"That is a great fight which I'd like to promote later next year," Lou DiBella, the HBO senior vice-president, said of a possible Hamed-Morales bout. "It could be sensational. But the Soto fight was hideous. It was impossible to referee. If anything you could have disqualified both of them."

* Richie Woodhall lost his World Boxing Council super-middleweight title in front of his hometown fans in Telford on Saturday when he was beaten by Germany's Markus Beyer, who won a unanimous points decision. Woodhall was knocked down four times.

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