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Hamed Wages War of Words With Kelly

December 16, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Prince Naseem Hamed, the WBO featherweight champion, judged himself the winner of a battle of words with challenger Kevin Kelley at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

``The way I scored it, I came out on top of it, the way I always do,″ the British-born Arab said at a news conference for a championship doubleheader Friday night at the Garden.

Las Vegas oddsmakers agree with the 23-year-old Hamed (28-0, 26 knockouts), who is a 3-1 favorite over the 30-year-old Kelley (47-1-2, 32 knockouts), a native New Yorker and a former WBC featherweight champion.

WBO super bantamweight champion Junior Jones (44-2, 26 knockouts), also a New York native, is a 3 1/2-1 betting choice over Kennedy McKinney (32-3-1, 18 knockouts) of Memphis, Tenn., a former IBF junior featherweight champion.

Whether or not Hamed landed more verbal jabs than Kelley, one thing was certain _ political correctness took a battering with each man saying things best left unsaid _ certainly left unprinted.

``The hype doesn’t bother me at all, I’m the man,″ Kelley said.

``Don’t forget we’re boxing for my title,″ Hamed said. ``You bring nothing. When is the last time you boxed in the Garden?″

This will be the first appearance for either Kelley or Jones in Garden’s main arena.

``I’m going to send you back home all screwed up,″ Kelley shouted.

``You can say anything to the press, but after I knock you out you’ve got to face things,″ Hamed countered.

Hamed has predicted a third-round knockout.

``He says the third round,″ Kelley snapped. ``He might not get past the first round. Nobody’s knocked me out. I’ve got more KOs than he’s got fights.″ Kelley’s loss was by technical knockout.

``Publicity don’t mean anything to me at all,″ said Hamed, who goes to pains to make his fights into an act featuring himself. ``I’m going to knock Kevin Kelley out. I don’t say things I don’t mean.″

Jones, who turns 27 on fight night, and the 31-year-old McKinney exchanged threats and curses _ and predictions.

``This fight won’t last three rounds,″ Jones said.

Responded McKinney, ``You’ve got a glass jaw. This fight won’t go eight rounds.″

Both of Jones’ losses were by technical knockout. McKinney has been stopped once.

The doubleheader will be televised by HBO starting at 9 p.m. EST

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