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No Fairy Tale Ending for the Prince
By (March 28, 2004) 
Prince Hamed
It might be safe to say that we may have seen the last of “Prince” Naseem Hamed in a boxing ring. The word “might” is to be taken advisedly, for one never knows when athletes, particularly boxers, are truly done. Nearly two years have passed since Hamed last fought, that being a lopsided, but uninspired decision win over a fighter of questionable credentials in Manuel Calvo. Since then, not a peep has been heard, and though most figure they have the answer as to the why, does anyone really care?

Everyone grows up hearing fairy tales, passed on from generation to generation, read by an adult to a starry-eyed child, the adult having once been that child him or herself. Princess, or some peasant girl, meets Prince, falls in love, everyone lives happily ever after, and all that. The story of Prince Hamed, of “Boxiana,” breaks from that mold, and ends not with a bang, but with the proverbial whimper.

Our story begins in Sheffield, England, the place where the man who would be Prince was born. Although Hamed, as he was called, was of Yemenite roots, Sheffield is the place where he would make his home. It was readily apparent that this young lad had a talent for fisticuffs, and he soon came to utilize his skills for pay in the manly art of self defense, otherwise known as prizefighting or boxing. Thus began the journey of Hamed to the top of the fistic mountain, where he would attempt to lay claim to the Featherweight Kingdom of Boxiana.

Never straying far from his homeland, Hamed would collect nineteen consecutive victories before challenging for his first crown, that of the World Boxing Organization. This crown he would win against a pugilist by the name of Steve Robinson, and Hamed would defend it against four comers leading up to the year 1997. Hamed’s title, the WBO version, was mocked by the journalists who covered his exploits, so he decided to challenge the venerable Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson for the more prestigious recognition of the International Boxing Federation. This fight was his as well, as would be two more in defense of his newly won laurels. He would give up his IBF title, however, and soon travel to a new land, called America.

It was in this new land that Hamed found himself in a life and death struggle against an aging, but still formidable warrior named Kevin Kelly, also known as the “Flushing Flash.” Three times each fighter would taste the canvas in their memorable battle, but it would be Hamed who emerged as the victor. Some of Boxiana was ready to anoint this newcomer King of Featherweights, while still others reserved judgment, pointing out that this Prince still had glaring deficiencies in his armor. Namely, they said, he throws punches from awkward angles and leaves himself off-balance and wide open to counter shots. His advocates responded that such awkwardness was what had made him effective. Indeed, few could recall seeing a fighter delivering punches in such an unorthodox manner while still carrying explosive power, as Hamed had.

After a half dozen more victories, Hamed was ready to proclaim his own greatness (in fact he was already in the practice of doing so to anyone who would stop and listen), stepping up to face the great Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera. Barrera, like Kelly, was seen by most as having been a very good competitor in his day, but those days were viewed as having passed. Barrera, however, had other ideas, and gave Hamed a terrific pounding with such thoroughness as to cause the Prince to question whether he should have ever come to this new place. He would go into seclusion for one year, and return to his native country with the fight against Calvo, previously mentioned.

It was a hollow victory. His limitations and weaknesses exposed by Barrera, the Prince had grown disillusioned with his practice. He would quietly slink away into the darkness, while the rest of Boxiana carried on, seemingly without taking notice of his absence. He would be replaced by other willing combatants, men like Barrera himself, and others with names like Marquez, Morales, and Pacquiao. It was as if the Prince had vanished from the face of the Earth, or perhaps even as if he had never been there at all. The Prince has not been heard from since. The End.
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