Naseem Hamed vs. Kevin Kelley
December 19, 1997 (Madison Square Garden, New York City)
On December 19, 1997, Naseem Hamed made his U.S. debut in his toughest test to date.
On December 19, 1997, in a fight televised live on HBO from Madison Square Garden, Naseem Hamed (28-0), the WBO featherweight champion from Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, made his U.S. debut in his toughest test to date against veteran Kevin Kelley (47-1-2), the former WBC featherweight champion from nearby Flushing, New York. The fight was scheduled for 12 rounds, but the two fighters needed just a third of that to imprint the memory of the bout in fight fans’ minds. “It was all energy. All excitement. It was just pure fun,” recalled HBO’s Jim Lampley. “Everything about it was magical, and it became as spectacular a give-and-take as we’ve ever had…”