"Prince" Naseem Hamed was arguably one of the most talented, and hardest punchers to ever emerge from Great Britain's rich boxing history. The 'Prince" had it all, style, flash, arrogance, talent, potential, solid promotional backing, and with all of that, in the end Naseem Hamed was unstuck as they say in Britain, by his own self inflicted wounds suffered by ego and an inability to take his own career serious enough; long enough.
At the height of his career Hamed held the lineal featherweight title (WBO, WBC, IBF) from 1998-2001. He defeated an impressive line of former champions including Wayne McCullough, Steve Robinson, Augie Sanchez, Wilfred Vasquez, Manuel Medina, Kevin Kelley, and the Yorkshire Hunter Paul Ingle. It was his win over Kevin Kelley in New York however that launched Naseem Hamed into boxing super stardom. From multi-million dollars paydays to appearances on the Tonight Show, Hamed was surely spearheaded toward boxing's uppermost peaks of icon status. Of course, this was ultimately derailed by a man named Marco Antonio Barrera.
The Mexican legend was a heavy underdog going into their 2001 fight for Hamed's lineal 126lb title. Despite an impressive career in his own right Barrera was seen as yet another knockout win for the Prince. Marco Antonio however had other plans and went on to comprehensively intimidate, strong arm, outsmart, out punch, out slick, and outbox Naseem Hamed to a clear cut undisputed unanimous decision victory. After that night twelve years ago in Las Vegas the world never heard from Prince Naseem. He had one more fight after that and then as quickly as he exploded on the scene; he was gone forever.
The question and the moral thereof taken from a story like the career of Prince Naseem Hamed, is one that can be directly linked to Adrien Broner. Is Broner More Prince Naseem than Floyd Mayweather?
Is this young, brash, foul mouth world champion who flushes cut up 20 dollar bills down the toilet on video, who has sex with strippers in clubs while his boys capture it on film, this arrogant, disrespectful young man with an abundant level of talent, is he disciplined enough to copy more than Floyd's mannerisms and rhetorical patterns; can he copy Floyd's dedication and work ethic? Being compared to Floyd and acting like him doesn't make you Floyd Mayweather, it doesn't even make you a good Floyd Mayweather impersonator. Where Floyd garners his respect, even among his most strident critics is well documented work habits. Floyd is the hardest working fighter in combat sports; but you have to be when you're the highest paid combat sports athlete in the world by a country mile or two.
As much of the personal antics and aloof sense of his own materialism and idol worship bothers me, I've always admired Floyd's boxing significance; meaning I admire his place in the history of the sport. This is a guy who has been a multi-division lineal champion and an undefeated champion for over fifteen years.
Adrien Broner can exploit ex girlfriends of his opponents, call them out their names and disrespect the gentlemen side of the sport until he's blue in the face. He can flush 20 billion dollars down the toilet and sleep with however many exotic dancers he wishes; but his ring accomplishments will determine his super stardom because as long as he produces in the squared circle every obnoxious sexist, and sinful deed he does when he's in street clothes will be well financed by his purse. And if he starts to slack in the ring, those purses will shrink.
A win over Paul Malignaggi won't answer the question of is Adrien Broner more Naz than Pretty Boy Floyd? That will have to be answered long term as his career progresses beyond tonight.
Broner has the spirit of Prince Naseem in terms of being the total package, is there a Marco Antonio Barrera in his future?