22-year-old Naz, then sporting a perfect 21-0 record, was making the second defence of the WBO title he had won with a near flawless display against Steve Robinson the previous summer. Alicea, two years the older man, was also unbeaten, at 15-0, yet only six of “Pipino’s” wins had come against fighters with winning records and he had never faced anyone of Hamed’s class. Still, Alicea was to prove himself a worthy adversary.
Hamed came out in his customary hands held low fashion, looking to land bombs at every opportunity. Showing little regard for the punches coming back at him, the flashy, wickedly powerful switch-hitter boxed with the cockiness and supreme self belief he had done since his very first pro fight. This time, though, Hamed’s chin would be caught by more than a few punches. During what had already been an exciting opening session, the large crowd had more to get animated about as Alicea landed three right hands on Hamed’s exposed jaw. Down went the Sheffield star, for the very first time in his career.