Back in the ring

WHEREAS Evander Holyfield’s umpteenth comeback attempt ended disastrously recently, the former World Heavyweight Champion being banned indefinitely by the New York State Athletics Commission, ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed, plans to make a more successful return from retirement. The extrovert Sheffield fighter held various versions of the World Featherweight title between 1995 and 2001, until being comprehensively beaten for the first time in his career by the still active superstar of the division, Marco Antonio Barrera. One tentative attempt to return to the ring since, ended in an embarrassingly inept points verdict over limited journeyman, Manuel Calvo.

Hamed, now 30, is still hungry despite an estimated 30 million euro fortune, amassed during a 10-year career and has hired a team of specialists to get him back into fighting shape. His comeback is scheduled for either March or April next year and it will be interesting to see if the former showman is still in possession of his unique talent.

Amir Kahn, 17-year-old British boxing sensation, also stepped back into the ring for the first time since that stirring Olympic gold medal bout in Athens against Cuba’s Mario Kindelan. This time, the opponent was American, Michael Evans, in an amateur meeting between the USA and Great Britain in the US. It is a sign of the sport’s growing popularity that the fight was shown live on primetime BBC 2 at 7pm and preceded by the young star’s guest appearance on the Blue Peter children’s programme. Khan looked red hot and soon found his range to comprehensively outpoint the 10 years older, American champion in a rousing display 35-13. He will be 18 next week and many observers feel that he may well turn professional, rather than wait for another shot at Olympic gold in 2008. It would be a mouthwatering prospect to see Khan in action against revitalised Naseem Hamed, with the winner perhaps taking on Barrera who proved his enduring prowess against Erik Morales recently.