Prince Naseem Hamed Dominated Vasquez In 1998
There is no doubt that in the late 1990s British Featherweight World Champion Prince Naseem Hamed was a whirlwind of unorthodox skill, over-the-top showmanship and big time knock out power. And, on an April night near his hometown in Manchester, England, Hamed once again established his World title credentials with a knockout win over a very notable opponent.
The night was April 18th, 1998, as Hamed made latest defense of his WBO version of the Featherweight championship. He took on the WBA Champion, Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez, in a scheduled 12-rounder. But, as was the case with all but two of Hamed’s first 30 pro fights, this one ended early with the flamboyant little champion scoring the KO that fans came and tuned in to see.
First, in the build-up, the 24 year old Hamed had come off of a thrilling United States debut at Madison Square Garden in New York the previous December, when he and Kevin Kelly engaged in an all-out fistic battle. It saw both fighters down multiple times, but Hamed eventually won by fourth round TKO.
Hamed’s popularity in Britain and the U.K. was rising to an all-time high, as he came into the Manchester Arena to fight the thirty-seven-year-old Vasquez, who had also previously won World titles in the Bantamweight and Junior Featherweight divisions earlier in his long career.
Interestingly, Vasquez decided to be stripped of his WBA version of the 126-pound title to fight Hamed in his home country. This, as Vasquez received the biggest payday of his career to do so.
Relive the battle here, including “Prince Naz’s always entertaining ring entrance and then, his big punching brilliance wearing down the veteran Vasquez:
Hamed was in complete control using his awkward punching from different angles to keep Vasquez at bay until the middle of the sixth round. That’s, when the referee noticed that the third strand of ropes had become very loosened and he stopped the round until it could be remedied.
That unusual delay lasted almost 6 minutes. This, while officials at ringside finally decided to just forgo that strand of ropes and tried to stabilize the three other strands of ropes tying two of them together in hopes of a quick finish for the fight without a fighter falling through.
Ultimately, Hamed obliged them by blitzing Vasquez early on in the 7th round and dropping him with a straight left hand. Vasquez was clearly still stunned, as Hamed continued to pour it on and eventually landed a three-punch combination that floored the weary Vasquez for the second time
Hamed moved in and a couple of punches later, the fight was waved off with him scoring a 28th stoppage in his first 30 pro wins. It was his 10th straight title fight win, and he would go on to defend five more times in the next two and half years.
Hamed finally lost in April of 2001 to Mexican World Champ Marco Antonio Barrera by 12 round decision in Las Vegas.
The always entertaining Hamed retired after one more non-title fight and win, the following year ending with a career mark at 36-1.