Sunday, September 15, 2019  |

News

Maurice Hooker went from $100 paydays to junior welterweight unification

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA
26
Jul

DALLAS – The road to becoming a world titleholder was not an easy one for WBO junior welterweight titleholder Maurice Hooker.

Fighting before a handful of people in ballrooms in Texas, keeping only $100 from a purse within his first three fights, and fighting in Tijuana to stay busy became the norm for Hooker.

After several years of sacrifices and missed opportunities, Hooker’s career finally took off, thanks to winning the vacant WBO title on June 9 of last year. Rather than sit on that win and owning a title, Hooker wants to unify and become the undisputed junior welterweight champion.

Hooker will face WBC junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez in a unification bout Saturday night at the Collage Park Center in Arlington, Texas. The fight will headline a four-bout stream on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).

At Friday’s weigh-in, Hooker (26-0-3, 17 knockouts) weighed in at 139.5 pounds. Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) weighed 139.4 pounds.

Hooker will be making the second defense of the WBO title against Ramirez. In his first defense on Mar. 9, Hooker dropped Mikkel LesPierre once en route to winning a one-sided decision. Hooker was criticized for a lackluster effort, but stated there was more to why the fight went the distance.

“That last fight was a bad night for me,” Hooker told The Ring Thursday afternoon. “I was drained from making weight for that fight. I could’ve finished him in that second round, but I had to hold back because I didn’t have any legs. I know I didn’t go all out after that knockdown with the hook, but I had to preserve myself for the rest of the fight.”

The winner of Saturday’s clash would own the WBC and WBO world title belts. There are boxing publications that believe the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) final winner between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor, which is scheduled to take place in this fall, would be recognized as the best fighter at 140 pounds.

The 29-year-old Hooker believes the winner of Saturday’s bout should be recognized as the top junior welterweight in boxing.

“I don’t think Prograis or Taylor beat anyone in the top five in the tournament,” said Hooker, who is managed by Arnie Verbeek and co-promoted by Dino Duva. “I believe the tournament was made for Prograis and Taylor to win. I think Jose could’ve easily beaten all the fighters both beat.

“That’s the thing with Jose. He’s a good fighter. I don’t think some people are giving him his credit. They’re looking at those fighters in the tournament. Ramirez is a better fighter. He’s got a good left hook to the body. He’s solid.”

 

Despite the criticism he rained down on the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), Hooker is open to fighting the winner.

“I would love to fight either Prograis or Taylor. I wouldn’t want to wait for that fight. I would push for the fight to take place as soon as possible. I can’t speak for them, but I would want to face either one right away.”

Hooker has come a long way from those fighting on cards in half-empty ballrooms and nightclubs or at venues in Indio, San Diego, or Memphis, far from his hometown of Dallas. Hooker has not hesitated in fighting solid opposition, which includes unbeaten fighters in his last four bouts. Hooker has fought a total of seven unbeaten fighters, going 6-0-1 in those fights.

Hooker cannot believe what he has been able to accomplish in the sport, but is grateful for the way things have transpired.

“I didn’t have a promoter for the longest time. I really started from the bottom. I wasn’t an Olympian or labeled a blue-chip prospect. I worked and progressed to where I’m at.”

“My career is a dream come true. I believed in myself that one day all this would be possible. It’s the biggest fight of my career on Saturday, but I’m more than ready.”

Weights

In the co-feature, Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer (29-4-1, 6 KOs) will defend his IBF junior lightweight title. He weighed in at 129.9 pounds, while mandatory challenger Guillaume Frenois (46-1-1, 12 KOs) of France weighed in at 129.5 pounds.

Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Junior featherweight Tramaine Williams (18-0, 6 KOs) will face Yenifel Vicente (35-3-2, 27 KOs) in a 10-round bout. Williams weighed 121.9 pounds and Vicente weighed 121.7 pounds.

In a 10-round heavyweight bout, Joey Dawejko (19-7-4, 11 KOs) weighed in at 251.4 pounds. Late-replacement Rodney Hernandez (13-7-2, 4 KOs) weighed 261.3 pounds.

 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring 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

 

 

Struggling to locate a copy of The Ring Magazine? Try here or Subscribe

You can order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.

No posts found.