Featherweight legend Prince Naseem Hamed has lamented the lack of excitement in modern British boxing and labelled Irish UFC star Conor McGregor as the only fighter comparable to himself.
Hamed is set to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend in recognition of his reign as world featherweight champion from 1995 to 2001.
A true character and entertainer, 'The Prince' lost just one fight in his career to Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera, stopping 31 of the 36 fighters he defeated.
Talking at a British boxing writers' dinner, Hamed bemoaned the lack of a similar fighter to himself in the current setup, per ESPN's Nick Parkinson:
One thing that has irritated me in the sport of boxing since I stopped is I'm really surprised that no one has come along to excite me like me. I thought I would have seen a character come through in boxing. The only character I have seen come through isn't a boxer, is Conor McGregor, the UFC fighter from Ireland. He's absolutely brilliant. He seems to have that winning formula and that confidence with abundance. I'm surprised I haven't seen a boxer like that.
Putting his comments into context, Hamed highlighted the underwhelming nature of the so-called "Fight of the Century" between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
He believes there is no fighter around at the moment who brings the excitement he used to elicit before his retirement in 2002, aged just 28.
However, the 41-year-old from Sheffield does believe Amir Khan could trouble Mayweather if the pair were to meet, but also urged the Bolton fighter to take on compatriot and IBF world welterweight champion Kell Brook, per Parkinson:
I want to see Amir fight Kell Brook and I want to see the big British blockbuster at Wembley. I don't see why Amir is overlooking Kell. You have a world champion on your doorstep with a legitimate world championship. [...]
But you would hold out for Mayweather if you were in Amir's position. I think Amir might give Mayweather a harder fight than his last 10 opponents because he's got fast hands and I would love Amir to win that fight. I think he's got a good chance and I think Floyd knows he's got a chance and that's why he's been avoiding it.
A mooted fight between Brook and Khan has been on the table for some time now, but looks to be getting no closer as the pair continue their war of words, per Sky Sports Boxing:
Khan is clearly focused on organising a fight with the undefeated Mayweather—potentially the American's final bout—and the 28-year-old recently suggested the deal was closer than ever to being agreed, per ESPN.
There is much dispute over whether Khan—whose record stands at 31-3—could challenge pound-for-pound king Mayweather.
However, it is inarguable that many British boxing fans are calling out for a showdown between him and Brook, and Hamed is very much an advocate of such a fight.
As Parkinson points out, Hamed had retired by the time he was Khan's age, and the southpaw does concede that he perhaps left the ring too early.
But he never allowed his legacy to be tarnished by going on too long, and certainly British boxing would be well served by a similarly talented entertainer in 2015.
That is not to say the current boxing arena is stale, though, and Hamed's dream of a Khan-Brook fight would certainly be a huge spectacle in the UK. Unfortunately, it still seems some way off.