Hamed the Judgement Knight

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The Independent Online
It took Naseem Hamed just two rounds to restore his slightly dented image in Manchester last night as he fulfilled his own prediction by disposing of the Argentinian challenger, Remigio Molina, in the second round to retain his World Boxing Organisation featherweight title for the fourth time.

Hamed's last two title defences, against Daniel Alicea and Manuel Medina, had been less than impressive and he badly needed a spectacular win to whet the appetite for his forthcoming unification match with the International Boxing Federation champion, Tom Johnson. Molina, a light puncher who has spent most of his career in the super-bantamweight division, was such a perfect opponent that he could have been chosen by computer. He was undefeated in 27 fights and in the five minutes and 32 seconds of action showed himself to be a brave and spirited competitor.

But with minimal punching power, he was never going to trouble the champion. Hamed simply blew him away, walking through the Argentinian's best punches and landing his own shatteringly hard blows to floor Molina halfway through the second round.

Molina did well to beat the count, and the Puerto Rican referee, Roberto Ramirez, gave him every chance to reassert himself. Molina fired back as best he could, but Hamed must have landed another dozen hooks and uppercuts before the referee rescued the challenger. Molina protested angrily - we would expect no less of such a game competitor - but Ramirez was absolutely right as Molina would have risked serious damage had he been allowed to continue.

He was consistently outpunched, yet never looked intimidated despite the fact that this was the first time he had been in the ring with a world class opponent. He took some solid punches unflinchingly in the first round as Hamed missed with as many as he landed. Hamed grinned at him and extended his glove in acknowledgement of his opponent's spirit as the bell ended the round.

Molina came out for the second in a southpaw stance and had some early success until Hamed landed two crunching rights which put the challenger in trouble against the ropes. Hamed followed up fiercely, sending Molina tottering across the ring like a leaf in a storm, but he showed real grit to fight his way off the ropes with a couple of left hooks.

Hamed drove him towards the ropes again with a four-punch combination, culminating in a right hook which dropped Molina heavily in the corner and from them on it was only a matter of whether Ramirez would rescue him before Hamed could deliver the coup de grace.