Friday, 30 May 2014

Froch Groves fever: stadium night fights: Hamed v Robinson

With Saturday's huge stadium fight between Carl Froch and George Groves fast approaching, I've been nostalgically re-watching some of my favourite 'stadium fights' and sharing my memories of the nights and fights in question. In the final entry in this series I examine Prince Naseem Hamed's visit to Cardiff to face Steve Robinson.

Hamed v Robinson: Cardiff Arms Park, 30 September 1995:
By September 1995 my previous number 1 fistic hero Chris Eubank had been humbled twice by Steve Collins and a new man occupied my pugilistic dreams: his name was Naseem Hamed and, to this day, I still think he's the greatest talent I've ever seen in a boxing ring.

Truth be told, by the time of the Collins loss, I had come to realise that Eubank had never and would never fight the quality of overseas opposition necessary to earn him a place on pugilism's Mount Olympus. I still had residual affection for him, but Hamed - well, Hamed was something different. With his flashy style, and formidable virtues of speed, power and elusiveness I was convinced that not only would Naz become a British boxing legend, but that he had the ability and potential to become recognised as one of the greatest boxers of all time, from any country, at any weight.

Had it not been for the considerable forces of hubris and complacency, perhaps he would have done.

Back in September 1995 though, the wasted potential, the lack of road-work, the unsavoury split with Brendan Ingle and the humbling defeat against Macro Antonio Barrera were still in the future ... because back in September 1995, Hamed was a featherweight incarnation of Muhammad Ali made flesh, with a large dose of the flashy showmanship of Hector Camacho thrown in for good (or bad) measure.

Yes, back then, before reality and his human frailties had been revealed, Naz was untouchable, unmatchable, unbeatable.

Watching this video again almost made me wish Naz had retired after this fight. So perfect is his performance and artistry here that, in retrospect, it's almost inevitable that what followed was merely anti-climactic postscript.

Luke G. Williams


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