Naseem Hamed never wanted to fight me again: Marco Antonio Barrera lifts the lid on his part in the end of the Sheffield idol’s boxing career
The Mexican warrior who effectively ended the career of Sheffield's most explosive ever boxer, Naseem Hamed, has revealed for the first time his thoughts on that conquest...and how surprised he was that the "Prince" never agreed to a re-match.
Marco Antonio Barrera retired in 2011 after winning multiple world championships in three weight classes.
His destruction of the colourful-Hamed over 12 rounds on April 7, 2001 knocked the stuffing out of the one-time Ingle superstar in more ways than one.
Hamed fought just once more, never to be seen in the ring again.
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The Sheffielder had been three to one betting favorite for the Las Vegas contest and had made his entrance by being swung into the ring in a giant hoop before the start of the IBO Featherweight Title fight.
But the conclusive manner of his defeat pretty much put paid to his flamboyant career.
“The Naseem [Hamed] fight, for me, this was my best fight,” Barrera told East Side Boxing.
"Because at the time, he was considered to be the best in the world, and also the best fighter and hardest puncher in the world [pound-for-pound].
"He was unbeaten when we met in Las Vegas, and he was very hard and difficult to fight, and he had beaten everyone – seven world champions had fallen to him at that point. For that fight, we had to change our skills.”
Naz had just turned 27 when he brought his bag of boxing tricks to the MGM.
He was confounded by the Mexican who employed intelligent boxing rather than slugging.
"It was a very difficult fight,” the fighter recalled. “He was the best puncher of the day and I had to be smart all the way. He was so fast and powerful.
"He was difficult because of his tricks and his hands (frequently by his side) style. He was the best and I was surprised he finished (his career) when he did. He could have done more in the ring. I met him when he was in his prime.”
Hamed had a rematch clause - but felt better of it. “I told him, ‘Naseem, come on, we must fight again.’ But he told me he’d finished with boxing,” Barrera, now aged 45, told writer James Slater.
“I told him I would come to the UK, but he told me no, that he was finished with boxing. I was surprised, I expected to fight him again. But that was my best win [over Hamed], to this day.”
Hamed, brought up at the Wincobank gym, had jettisoned his trainer Brendan Ingle by the time he fought Barrera.
The pair’s relationship had broken down in the late 1990s, with Ingle unhappy about Hamed’s attitude as his success increased. Hamed boxed once more time after Barrera. He outpointed Manuel Calvo but it was a stale performance – and enough for him to hang up the gloves.