Naseem Hamed will be missing when his name is inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York today.
An apparent medical condition affecting the Sheffield man’s wife Eleasha has been prevented him from receiving one of the biggest honours available to the world’s most revered pugilists.
Naz, who famously ruled the world at featherweight, says he will travel to the event next year instead, to give his acceptance speech.
The Ring magazine,referring to his absence, reported: “There are those who wonder whether Hamed’s no-show status is somehow connected to visa problems resulting from a 2005 three-car crash in England involving Hamed which left another driver severely injured and led to the fighter serving four months in prison.”
The magazine also suggests the former Ingle stylist may have had to wait for his eighth year of eligibility to be honoured due “to an anti-Hamed American voting bloc that didn’t believe the son of Yemeni immigrants fought long enough or faced enough quality opponents, or was just too arrogant and self-absorbed to be granted all-time great status.”
The 26th annual induction ceremony goes ahead on Sunday, with Riddick Bowe and Ray Mancini getting the red carpet treatment.
Hamed (36-1, 31 knockouts) was aged 28 when he retired in 2002 but says he went out at the right time.
Does the one-time Wincobank champion deserve the induction?
We have asked some leading characters in Sheffield’s boxing community for their view.
See what they say in Monday’s Star.
* Deontay Wilder knocked Eric Molina out after nine rounds in Alabama to retain the WBC world heavyweight championship.
The 239-pound Texan had already been knocked down on three occasions but managed to get up every time before Wilder delivered the final big blow with 1:03 left in the ninth.
Tuscaloosa-native Wilder, 29, was defending the belt he won from Bermane Stiverne in January in what was the first-ever world championship fight in his home state of Alabama.
“This is what it’s all about,” he told Showtime. “This is the first of many title fights in Alabama.”
On Molina, he added: “To be honest, I definitely was surprised. It does my heart so good even standing in front of him right now and say this guy has heart.
“All the critics doubted him, all the naysayers said he wouldn’t last but I’m so proud of him.
“He has my support from this point on because this is the first ever title defence in any weight division in the state of Alabama.
“What I needed was a tough guy, I needed a guy that had heart, I needed a guy that was going to get dropped but come back up and still fight. I needed that. And Eric Molina, I got that out of him.”
* Britain’s Lee Haskins, 32, claimed the IBF interim bantamweight title by stopping Ryosuke Iwasa of Japan in the sixth round at the Whitchurch Arena on his home turf in Bristol.
Iwasa, 25, fighting outside Japan for the first time, was caught by a big left hand from British and EBU champion Haskins in the sixth round and, although he beat the count, referee Phil Edwards called a halt to the contest with 50 seconds of the round remaining.