Naseem Hamed KOs Kevin Kelley This Day December 19, 1997 and Retains the Featherweight Crown
The British are coming, the British are coming! Back in the 1990’s, British fighter “Prince” Naseem Hamed held both the IBF and WBO world featherweight boxing titles. He was widely regarded as one of the best p4p fighters on the planet, yet had never fought in the United States.
Undefeated at the time, the critics and fans wanted to see what the dynamic fighter from Yorkshire could do outside of the British Isles. So on December 19, 1997, Hamed stepped into the ring at Madison square garden New York. To take on Kevin Kelley and defend his Featherweight Crown.
In a classic back and forth fight, Hamed hit the canvas for the first time in his career. While also managing to floor Kelley. Coming into the fourth round, things were set up for a fight which looked like it could go either way.
But then in the last minute of the round, having just suffered a knockdown himself. Hamed bounced back to land a left which floored Kelley. As he struggled to make his way back to his feet, he couldn’t make the count.
And with that, Naseem Hamed had announced himself to the American audience. Yet another British fighter making his way across the pond to show he had what it takes to mix it up with the best away from home.
Hamed would continue his winning ways until 2001, when Marco Antonio Barrera would give him the only loss in his career. He would retire from the sport just one year later.
Naseem Hamed 126 lbs
Kevin Kelley 125½ lbs by KO at 2:27 in round 4 of 12
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Referee: Benjy Esteves Jr.
Judges: Eva Shain 27-28, Jose Hiram Rivera 27-28, Victor Salomon 28-27.
World Boxing Organization Featherweight Title (9th. defending of Hamed)