Hamed dances nearer world title campaign

BOXING
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The Independent Online
Naseem Hamed needed five minutes to walk through a firework display, dance his way down a slope and get to the ring but only three minutes and 55 seconds to ruin Mexico's Enrique Angeles inside an unbearably hot showground at Shepton Mallet late on Saturday night.

Hamed, still only 21, became British boxing's youngest millionaire when he entered the ring after his extended dance routine. His performance on both sides of the ropes, was a mixture of outrageous daring, power and calculated nastiness which combined to send the bewildered Mexican down and out for the first time in his career. Hamed is now unbeaten in 18 fights and looks capable and poised to win a world title.

Hamed retained his World Boxing Council international super-bantamweight title for the fourth time but the garish belt was secondary to the continuance of his ring brilliance. He entertained and the fight was fascinating while it lasted because of the Mexican's bravery and instinctive tactics but finally Hamed's savage punching took its toll.

Now the boxer's promoter, Frank Warren, will try to persuade a world champion to fight his prospect. It will not be easy. A simpler and far less expensive route may involve Warren negotiating with the World Boxing Organisation featherweight champion, Steve Robinson, whom he also promotes, to fight Hamed in the summer. The Sheffield boxer and his manager, Brendan Ingle, are keen to meet Robinson.

On Saturday night Angeles slowly lost his way as Hamed, his eyes set in a frantic stare, hit him from every angle before landing the final right to conclude a thrilling fight after 55 seconds of the second round. The crowd stood throughout.

"He was more powerful than I expected but he needs the crowd, he is a home fighter," said Angeles, who was having his first fight outside Mexico in 31 appearances and just his second fight away from his home town of Mexico City. Hamed will travel much better.

The British prospect is quickly establishing himself as one of the very best rising stars in the world and Warren, who works closely with Don King, plans to send out 1,000 Hamed information packs, including a video of the boxer's best knock-outs.

"The Americans want him and they will go crazy when they get to see him," Warren claimed. Hamed's American debut could take place when Mike Tyson fights in Las Vegas on 19 August. It would be a suitable occasion to let the cynical and often ill-informed American fight public watch the destructive little fighter.

n The Colombian super-featherweight, Jimmy Garcia, is in a critical condition after having surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain following his failed challenge for Gabriel Ruelas' World Boxing Organisation title in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The fight was stopped less than 30 seconds into the 11th round and Garcia passed out in his corner immediately afterwards.

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