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Maurice Hooker says jab is key to beating LesPierre, wants to unify vs Ramirez

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
08
Mar

Nothing has come easy for Maurice Hooker, including a bout against the scale Friday afternoon. After originally weighing 140.5 pounds, Hooker came back two hours later to come in at weight.

Hooker can proceed in the defense of his WBO junior welterweight title tonight against unbeaten Mikkel LesPierre at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York.

The 12-round bout will precede the main event between WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol and Joe Smith.

Both fights will be streamed live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

Tonight will mark the second title defense for Hooker, who stopped unbeaten Alex Saucedo in his last bout on Nov. 16 in Saucedo’s hometown of Oklahoma City. Despite getting knocked down early in the fight, Hooker believed Saucedo’s downfall would be in the later rounds.

“Going into the fight, I knew he would struggle in the later rounds,” Hooker told The Ring over the phone Wednesday night. “He gets hit a lot, so I put the pressure on him in the middle rounds. I wasn’t hurt from the flash knockdown. I just knew I was going to him him with those right hands behind the jab.

Hooker (25-0-3, 17 knockouts), who resides in the Dallas area, has come a long way over the last couple of years. The 29-year-old Hooker was criticized for his performance against former lightweight contender Darley Perez, which ended in a draw.

Many ringside observers thought Perez did enough to win, and wondered whether Hooker could become an elite fighter or reach the upper echelons of the junior welterweight division.

Hooker stated he dealt with a health issue the day of the fight.

“I had a busted eardrum in my left ear,” said Hooker, who has trained alongside Miguel Cotto and Terence Crawford. “I took these pills, which were supposed to make me feel better, but it affected me. I literally felt the ring shaking and I felt off. With what I went through, I’m happy with the draw, but I had to have surgery to fix my eardrums.”

LesPierre (21-0-1, 10 KOs), who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and now resides in Brooklyn, New York, stopped Wilton Montero in his last bout on Nov. 17. He has stopped three of his last four opponents and is ranked number 14 by the WBO.

Hooker believes he is the better skill-set and will dominate LesPierre.

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

“We have different styles and I’ve watched him, but I don’t see how he is slick, as people keep saying he is. His toughest fight was against my sparring partner, who I thought beat LesPierre. I don’t see anything that will surprise me. I’m going to kill him with the jab.”

After the LesPierre fight, Hooker wants to unify the decision. He is confident a fight could take place against WBC junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez or the winner of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), which includes WBA titleholder Kiryl Relikh, IBF titleholder Ivan Baranchyk, or top contender Regis Prograis.

“I want to fight them all. Ramirez says he wants to fight me. I hope he follows through with what he says. I’ll fight anyone.”

Even with coming in half a pound above the 140-pound limit, Hooker is motivated to keep his title.

“I’m very motivated. I want me being a champion to last forever. I want to into each fight harder. I want to fight the best.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @FSalazarBoxing    

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