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Hamed stripped of title

MEXICO CITY, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- MEXICO CITY (Ticker) -- "Prince" Naseem Hamed has been stripped of his featherweight title by the World Boxing Council in the wake of his decision to defend to defend his World Boxing Organization title. The move, effective immediately, leaves the WBC title vacant.

It also marks the second time in his career that Hamed has surrendered a title rather than defend it. In 1997, he gave up the IBF version of the crown after winning it from Tom Johnson.

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Hamed captured the title with an easy unanimous decision over Mexican veteran Cesar Soto on Oct. 22. He is 33-0 with 29 knockouts and his flashy style has made him one of the world's most talked-about fighters and a popular draw.

Hamed, an Englishman of Yemeni descent, is rated among the world's top pound-for-pound boxers and is locked into a lucrative television contract with HBO.

He is scheduled to fight Junior Jones in March.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman has ordered a fight between No. 1 contender Luisito Espinosa of the Philippines and Guty Espadas of Mexico, with the winner gaining the vacant WBC title.

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