Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, for a time there was little to dispute the fact that Prince Naseem looked like he might just be the best young fighter the world has ever seen. He was a child prodigy and was trained in a southpaw style at Brendan Ingle’s gym. It was here that he started to hone the skills and tricks that made him a short-term part of the boxing pantheon.
A successful start to his boxing career was what took him all the way to being drafted in for a shot at the WBO Featherweight title. Although he had never fought at this weight before, he took on the champion Steve Robinson. Held in Cardiff, the home ground of the champion, Robinson was dismissed in the 8th round after a cracking punch from the Prince. This was the beginning of his outstanding title defence run and his own legacy starting within the world of boxing.
His first defence was against Said Lawal, who was dismissed just 35 seconds into the fight with the first punch thrown. It was this type of super-efficient boxing that made Naseem, but it’s also arguably what finished him off in the end. He was held up as a symbol of the “new” boxing due to his extravagant personality and outlandish entrances, mixed with an incredible pace and speed of thought within the ring.
Victories kept flooding in for the Yorkshireman, as more and more rivals were put to the test, only to fail. He regularly beat big names like Kevin Kelley, Tom Johnson and Wilfredo Vaquez with relative ease to establish himself, at the time, as one of the biggest names in the sport not just in the UK but in the entire world. He retained his titles time and time again, with fifteen successes in a row until he fought Marco Antonio Barrera.
The Mexican is a lethal fighter and his own stringent training regimes blew apart the basic approach of the Prince. By the time the fight started, there was no real flow to the fight from Naseem as he struggled to get going. In the final round, he went for a high-risk punch that missed, and Barrera punished him. He lost his fight with Barrera and therefore his title, and this was the beginning of the end for Naseem.
Although he lost his way in the end, at one point he was a truly marvelous fighter. Whether it was his flying carpet or his flying hands, there was nobody that could doubt the incredible strength and prowess of Naseem in the ring.