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Anyone who has seen the Marco Antonio Barrera-Prince Naseem Hamed fight or is familiar with my previous article covering it will be well aware of the rather bleak situation Naseem Hamed appears to be in today regarding his reputation and stature in world boxing. After all it is almost six months since the fight itself and we have nothing but rumours of his intentions, a statement regarding a press conference that has yet to materialise and an enduring memory of him describing how his first and only professional defeat must be the will of Allah.
rather bleak situation Naseem Hamed appears to be in today
Personally I find it hard to believe that Hamed didn't see the Barrera-Morales fight
I would be the last to knock Hamed's religious convictions but I do believe that as a fighter he must accept responsibility for his actions when he enters the ring and the truth is that he fought without passion and seemingly without any kind of tactic against a supreme technician. Emanuel Steward, now departed from the Hamed camp has publicly voiced his disapproval of the way the fighter's camp was run, especially the sparring and even going as far as to say that in order to build the Prince's confidence, tapes of Barrera's less impressive performances were shown to him. Personally I find it hard to believe that Hamed didn't see the Barrera-Morales fight where he was at his destructive best, possibly though the camp didn't go through how Barrera could conceivably outbox their man using his height and reach advantages, relying too much on the force of Hamed's power to overcome that obstacle.
That theory certainly seems to hold up when you look at how convincingly Barrera was managing to outbox Hamed yet there was only the same dogged approach in response. If Steward's assertions are taken as more than just bitter parting shots, serious questions about the organisation of the Hamed camp must be asked and some drastic changes have to be made. The focus of this article though is to try to see a way forward, unfortunately we don't have the immediate rematch with Barrera to look forward to at the moment but what I want to do is share what I feel are tactics Hamed could employ in a rematch should it occur.
If Steward's assertions are taken as more than just bitter parting shots
he managed to rock Barrera and bloody his nose
What became obvious to me quite early on in the fight was that Hamed was not trying to win rounds at all, pawing with the right jab from the southpaw stance and trying to land that one big straight left, he was trying to end the fight from minute one. There was one brief switch to orthodox approximately midway through the fight and his work began to have a little more fluidity, he managed to rock Barrera and bloody his nose, momentarily he loosened up and showed flashes of that arrogance, but it seemed that once Barrera had ridden the storm his confidence drained and it was back to stalking from the southpaw stance again.
Still in what I would say were his prime fighting years he still has enough speed to cause Barrera problems if he uses it, preferably to throw combinations in and out from whichever stance he chooses, most likely southpaw though and preferably moving away from that lethal let hook Barrera has. Also he would have to try and work the body of Barrera, something he hardly did at all in the first fight, think of Floyd Mayweather.Jr constantly moving and sticking hard jabs to the mid section of Diego Corrales, round after round wearing his resistance down. A tactic like this would have to be employed with much more authority by Hamed now though seeing as by the time they fight again Barrera will have adapted and be far stronger at the weight.
Barrera will have adapted and be far stronger at the weight.
damage to Barrera's head and body, he showed how capable he is of this against Jose Badillo
Variety is the key I feel, for at least the first seven rounds Hamed has to box and take the rounds, using his ample speed and power to do damage to Barrera's head and body, he showed how capable he is of this against Jose Badillo and more impressively I thought against the then unbeaten Paul Ingle. If an opening appears he must take it and pick his shots with caution against Barrera who is sometimes even more dangerous when he's hurt, but if there is no definite breakthrough he must remain consistent to the plan which will eventually bring a result I feel, that is that winning the early rounds may force Barrera into coming at him which he rightfully avoided in their previous meeting.
In those difficult early rounds Barrera will sense what Hamed is trying to do and may try to counter with a more aggressive approach while he is still fresh, again think of how Mayweather would use strategic clinching and smother the offensive work of Corrales. This is something Hamed definitely has to do if he starts by using his reflexes but Barrera still manages to catch him. In the first fight Hamed was too easy to hit, he must use good lateral movement and get on his bike when necessary, plus his naturally unpredictable style would give Barrera so much more to think about, I was convinced that Barrera would have problems dealing with Hamed attempting punches from the angles that only he can but of course that never happened, his own style is far more natural to him whereas the straight up stalking style is too uncomfortable.
he must use good lateral movement and get on his bike when necessary
the killer instinct to end matters when necessary
He must keep Barrera guessing, he has the unique style to bewilder practically anyone he fights and the killer instinct to end matters when necessary, too often we've seen Hamed become bored when he has been unable to make a big impact on his opponent so it remains to be seen whether he has the belief and concentration level to stick to a game plan that requires him to remain composed and determined for possibly a whole twelve rounds. He boxed excellently against Ingle but began to come apart in the later rounds when lacking stamina, this cannot happen against Barrera who will have to be severely pressured before he starts to tire.
Hamed has to prioritise winning the fight instead of being preoccupied with scoring a spectacular knockout, Barrera dominated him in the first fight and Hamed cannot allow him to do so again, he must assert himself from the start and remain consistent, forcing Barrera into where he wants him, he is still the superior puncher in the featherweight division bar none but that has been proven to be useless if those punches cannot find their target. If Barrera can be forced into a desperate effort to win the fight by walking forward as was previously anticipated, especially when he is sufficiently weakened, Hamed's power could bring him the victory he craves.
Hamed's power could bring him the victory he craves.
Read Courage under fire Part 1
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