Hooker: ‘It would mean so much to me to fight in Dallas as a champion’

Maurice Hooker hopes to land a big homecoming fight in Dallas next as he defends his WBO World Super-Lightweight title for the second time against Mikkel LesPierre at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday March 9, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

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Hooker (25-0-3 17 KOs) won his title on the road by ripping it from champion Terry Flanagan in Manchester, England in June and then packed his bags again for his first defense, a thrilling win over local favorite Alex Saucedo in Oklahoma City in November, Hooker climbing off the canvas in the second round to stop Saucedo in the seventh.

Hooker hits the road again to put his belt on the line against Brooklyn’s LesPierre (21-0-1 10KOs) but ‘Mighty Mo’, who has predicted a devastating KO win over the challenger, wants to come home in his next fight – and believes he can do so in a major fight that will stake his claim to being the best in the world at 140-pound.

“It would mean so much to me to fight in Dallas as a champion,” said Hooker. “I want to show the kids in my neighborhood that don’t have anyone to look up to that they can look at me – I’m a champion that they can follow and look up to.

“I wasn’t a disciplined kid so boxing taught me a lot. My attitude was bad so boxing taught me to keep calm no matter what. When you look at what I’ve achieved, that’s the example I want to show the kids where I am from.

“My kids are my motivation – I want to give them the life that I didn’t have growing up, give them everything they want and be there for them.

“I am my biggest opponent. Sometimes you can think ‘I’m a World champion, I don’t need to train.’ I know that can backfire on me in the gym so I am working harder than ever because i want to stay a champion and achieve more in the future.

“It’s an open division, and one I think I can take over. There’s a lot of good fighters in there making a name for themselves and a lot coming up.

“I’m a champion and I want to fight the best. I feel I am the best. My long arms, my chin, my skills and my hard work will put me on the top – I think that sets me apart.

“Dallas is my home and in my heart, but there’s too many distractions to train there. In San Diego, I wake up thinking about boxing and go to bed thinking about boxing, and just train in between. The weather is great, I just love it.”

Hooker’s clash with LesPierre is part of a huge night of action at Turning Stone Resort Casino with a second mouthwatering World title fight on the bill in the shape of Dmitry Bivol (15-0 11KOs) defending his WBA World Light-Heavyweight title against Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr (24-2-0 20KOs).

Callum Johnson (17-1-0 12KOs) and Sean Monaghan (29-2-0 17KOs) will both have a keen eye on Bivol’s clash as they battle in a crunch fight in the 175lbs division, World-ranked heavyweight contender Sergey Kuzmin, (14-0 11 KOs), of St. Petersburg, Russia will battle Philadelphia based veteran Joey Dawejko, (19-6-4 11 KOs) and Otha Jones III makes his pro debut on the card.

Photo: Matchroom Boxing
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Saucedo: ‘Winning a world title in front of my fans will mean the world to me’

Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo grew up in Oklahoma City, a short bike ride from the Chesapeake Energy Arena. It was called the Ford Center back then, but Saucedo always dreamed of headlining a world title fight in his hometown.

Saucedo will get that chance on Friday, Nov. 16 when he challenges WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. This special one-fight Top Rank on ESPN broadcast begins at midnight ET.

The undercard, including the welterweight showdown between Egidijus “The Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas and Roberto Arriaza, will stream live at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Roc Nation Sports and Matchroom Boxing USA, tickets for this world championship event are on sale now. Priced at $250, $150, $75, $50, and $35, tickets may be purchased at the Chesapeake Energy Arena box office, online at Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

“Winning a world title in front of my fans will mean the world to me,” Saucedo said. “That’s something I have been dreaming of since I started boxing, and now that the opportunity is here, I’m going to train hard and become a champion.”

Saucedo (28-0, 18 KOs) last fought June 30 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena against Lenny Zappavigna, a Fight of the Year contender that ended with a bloody Saucedo stopping an even bloodier Zappavigna in the seventh round. Saucedo-Zappavigna served as the co-feature to Gilbert “Zurdo” Ramirez’s super middleweight title defense against Alexis Angulo that evening. Now, Saucedo will top the bill in his beloved OKC.

“My last fight in Oklahoma City was a war. I believe I learned a lot in that fight,” Saucedo said. “{Trainer Abel Sanchez and I} went back to look at the tape. We learned that I need to use a lot more movements. We saw a lot of things that I need to work on, and we have done so. I have been training very hard. We will be ready for Nov. 16.”

Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KOs), from Dallas, Texas, is a newly minted world champion. On June 9, he punched his passport to Manchester, England, and upended the hometown hero, Terry Flanagan, via split decision to win the title. Hooker will look to defend his title for the first time in the fistic version of the “Red River Rivalry.”

“I believe Maurice Hooker is a smart and strong fighter,” Saucedo said. “I have to be smart in the ring. I have to go in there with everything that I know.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank