2000-08-19 Naseem Hamed w rsc 4 Augie Sanchez, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA - WBO
2000-08-19 Naseem Hamed w rsc 4 Augie Sanchez, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA - WBO. Referee: Michael Ortega. Although being given a bit of a scare when put down twice by solid right hands in the second round, despite the referee not counting them as such and being tagged with some ease in the third, Hamed (126) soon focused on successfully defending his title to turn things around in the fourth. Nailed early on in the fourth by two rights and a big left, Sanchez (126) was dropped, and on getting to his feet he was soon down again after Hamed had been deducted a point for hitting him while down the first time. Hamed was now in full cry. When a cracking left hook followed by a right-left-right parted Sanchez from his senses it left the referee no alternative but to stop the contest immediately, the finish being timed at 2.34.
Hamed relinquished the WBO version of the title in October in order to take on Marco Antonio Barrera for the lesser recognised IBO crown, an action that was followed by Istvan Kovacs and Antonio Diaz being matched to find a new WBO champion.
Taking place on 7 April 2001 at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, although supported by the International Boxing Organisation this fight was more to do with both Barrera and Hamed wanting to decide the best man in the world at the weight, being the richest ever featherweight contest. Right from the opening bell Barrera (125½) got the left jab working well against the switch-hitting Hamed (126), doubling up and finding the target again and again. By round six it had become a master class as Barrera hit and moved before Hamed could get set, and although the latter was still in the fight he was having no success with his heavier punches. Whenever Barrera was caught by a solid shot he would hold before getting back to business. And he was always on the outside of Hamed’s lunges. Even a point deduction in the 12th for bouncing Hamed’s head off a ringpost made no difference, Barrera having landed 89 more punches on his rival than he had received himself in what was a comprehensive 116-111, 115-112, 115-112 victory.
Almost immediately, Barrera relinquished the IBO title, claiming to be a fighter who would not be tied down by any of the self-styled boxing commissions.
On 8 September 2001, Barrera forced Enrique Sanchez to retire at the end of the sixth round at the Lawlor Events Centre, Reno, Nevada in a fight made at 126lbs and billed as being for ‘The Peoples’ Championship’.
Barrera’s next contest would be against the WBC champion, Erik Morales, and would also involve The Ring magazine championship belt.