By Clive Bernath: Even though he never officially retired I always felt I knew the real reason Naseem Hamed never fought again after out-pointing Spaniard Manuel Calvo in May, 2002.
On Sunday my suspicions were finally proved correct when Naz revealed to BBC Radio 5’s Live Sports week programme that damaged hands forced him stop practising the sport he loved.
"I had hand trouble and could not take the power of my punch," Hamed BBC 5 Live.
"I needed cortisone injections to take away the pain when I fought, then after every fight the gloves would be whipped off and my hands would be as big as balloons.
"It was getting ridiculous and you can’t go on with no ammunition. I was one of the hardest punchers ever known but if the hands are quite brittle and you do damage, then it’s hard to carry on."
There were a number of reasons why my suspicions were aroused concerning Hamed’s lack of activity after the win over Calvo, and it was not just because he stunk out the London Arena with arguably the worst performance of his 37 fight career. No, I vividly remember being ringside that particular night on May 18, 2002 and rather conveniently overheard Hamed confide to promoter Barry Hearn that ‘my hands are f**ked’. As Hamed walked down the steps from the ring he whispered into Hearn’s ear, ‘my hands are f**ked, there’s just nothing there’.
It all makes perfect sense when you think about it because although Hamed was gifted with lightening fast reflexes, especially in the early days, he possessed even greater fire power in those fists he aptly named ‘Rocket Launchers’. Think about it? 31 ko’s from 37 fights. At just 5ft 4 and 9st Hamed hit harder than some world class welterweights. In fact he probably knocked out more fighters with a single shot than any other British boxer so its no wonder those fists ended up being damaged beyond repair.
As mentioned earlier Hamed has never officially retired but after piling on the weight, settling more and more into family life and the fact he has now come clean about his damaged hands I think we can safely assume he will never fight again.
Naseem Hamed may not have been the most popular British boxer in history but one could argue that pound for pound he was one of the hardest hitters.
August 31, 2009