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Maurice Hooker and Alex Saucedo fight for a world title

By Vikram Birring

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Photo by Mikey Williams
Photo by Mikey Williams

Maurice Hooker and Alex Saucedo fight tonight for a 140-pound title belt. Both were once highly touted prospects that are still undefeated, but with severe bumps along the way to this point.

 

Hooker was a highly touted boxer from Dallas, so much so that Jay-Z made him one of his first signings in his Roc Nation Sports boxing division. Hooker was put on Andre Ward undercards, and in his first high profile bout in 2016 against Colombia’s Darleys Perez, he was awarded a dubious draw that most thought Perez won. Following that, he rebounded with a victory against longtime veteran Cristobal Cruz, and then a decision over undefeated but unknown Courtney Jackson. This would lead to his toughest test to date when he had to cross the Atlantic Ocean to face England’s Terry Flanagan on his home turf. Flanagan didn’t have many high-profile bouts on his ledger either, but he did have one impressive victory against Diego Magdaleno and defeated all other comers, some with good records like Petr Petrov. Flanagan was favored to win, but surprisingly Hooker defeated him clearly and took the belt home.

 

Alex Saucedo burst onto the scene a few years ago when signed by Top Rank. Originally from Mexico but now living in Oklahoma, he was built up slowly and piled up knockouts. This author recalls a bout five years ago in Corpus Christi where he knocked the daylights out of a hapless opponent, leading some at ringside to leap out of their seats. All prospects eventually have to be tested though, and Saucedo’s first test was against Lenny Z of Australia in Oklahoma City.

 

To American fans, he was best known for being given a gift decision against Fernando Angulo in 2010. Since then, he had several victories but some losses against elite competition. Like when he faced Angulo, Zappa was expected to be a shopworn veteran that would be a good learning experience for young Saucedo. Learning experience and more it was, as in the fourth round Saucedo was stunned and then beaten around the ring from pillar to post. How he survived was a Herculean miracle, but he did and proceeded to stop Lenny Z in the seventh round.

 

Coming into this fight, Hooker should be favored on their last performances alone. However, it should be noted that the boxer usually has to do more than the aggressor in such matchups, as many judges favor the brawler, even if accuracy is lacking. In addition, Saucedo has the brighter moneymaking future, as he sells tickets in Oklahoma and can bring a Mexican American fanbase behind him due to his name and heritage. Money talks in boxing, so if Hooker wants to win, he has to repeat his performance against Flanagan and perhaps even go for the knockout if he can stun Saucedo like Lenny Z did. For Saucedo, he will be his aggressive self but needs to be wary defensively, as Hooker will be looking to hurt him after his last bout.

 

All in all, this is a crossroads bout for two young fighters wanting to crack into the elite of their division. The winner will probably have one eye on the World Boxing Super Series, which has already started in the division. Regis Prograis is the favorite to win that, and a matchup involving him is always entertaining. With the exit of Terence Crawford, the division is wide open for another king, and this fight will solve part of that puzzle.  

Photo by Mikey Williams
Photo by Mikey Williams
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