Hamed unable to defend his title

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The Independent Online

A hand injury to Naseem Hamed means that he is unable to make his first defence of the World Organisation feather weight title and will surrender the spotlight to two of Britain's bread-and-butter champions at London Arena on 9 December.

Hamed sustained a fractured right hand while preparing for the fight against the unbeaten Mexican, Arnulfo Castillo. "The specialist says he will not be able to fight before the end of January at the earliest," said Andy Ayling for the promoter Frank Warren.

Hamed, who stopped the Welshman Steve Robinson to become champion, is now scheduled to meet Castillo later in the year. In his place, Ross Hale and Paul Ryan top the bill in a triple light-welterweight title fight which presents both men with a big chance to make the most of prime-time exposure - and to press a claim for a WBO world championship chance.

Herbie Hide will also not fight on 9 December, having decided to forgo a pounds 120,000 purse to challenge for the European heavyweight title in Stuttgart. He has withdrawn from a bout against the Croatian holder, Zelkjo Mavrovic, because he is not keen to fight in Germany.

It would have been Hide's first ring appearance since losing his WBO title to Riddick Bowe in Las Vegas in March - a fight which earned him pounds 2m - and was scheduled to support the Axel Schulz-Frans Botha bout for the vacant International Federation heavyweight championship.

Hide was forced to pull out of the original 15 September date against Mavrovic in his home town of Norwich after undergoing an operation on his jaw which required the removal of wisdom teeth.

The European Union then put the bout out to purse bids, with the biggest offer coming from a German promoter, Wilfred Sauerland. "I didn't want to fight in Germany. I wanted the fight to go ahead in front of my own fans in Norwich,'' Hide said.