Maurice Hooker def. Alex Saucedo (TKO Rd 7)

 

OKLAHOMA CITY- Primetime performances don’t always happen in prime time. Early Saturday morning on the east coast, Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker showed the heart of a champion in the first defense of his WBO Junior Welterweight strap. The Dallas native overcame a Round 2 knock down- storming back with a a pair of vicious combos to finish the hometown favorite in Round 7.

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Hooker is no stranger to planting his flag in enemy territory. He first claimed the vacant belt in a hard fought, split decision victory over Terry Flanagan in his hometown of Manchester. In that fight, analysts praised the competitive nature of the bout while drawing attention to Hooker’s lack of head movement and the overall lack of effectiveness on his punches. The only real damage in that bout was caused by a collision of heads that left Flanagan split open for the remainder of the fight.

It wouldn’t be a collision of heads that would do the damage on Friday night, but a collision of styles. Based on frames and fight history one could safely presume a fight on the outside would favor the man with an 8” reach advantage in Hooker, while a fight in close range would favor the more technically sound striker in Alex Saucedo.

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I had the fight scored an even 57-57 going into the 7th Round. I understand the inclination to reward a 10-8 round automatically in the event of an unanswered knock down, but the flurry Maurice Hooker ripped off in the closing moments of Round 2 likely kept the round at least competitive on the scorecard. The knockdown came on a perfectly timed right hook on a long, lunging right by the champion that left him exposed.

The real turning point was in Round 5, a round in which the champion likely lost. In a round where Saucedo controlled the distance and pace, he was unable to do any real damage. Hooker rolled with most of the challengers punches with his back against the rope and even closed the round pushing the fight back to the center of the ring with a violent string of jabs and straight rights. His ability to manage the gas tank while riding the tide against him helped allow the confidence to cut loose for the remainder of the fight.

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Saucedo kept it interesting with a flurry to close out a Round 6 in which the champion likely won, but would not find any semblance of success in the round to follow. Saucedo’s came into Round 7 with a busted and bleeding eye and would not have the tools to deal with the onslaught that would ensue. Hooker slammed the challenger against the ropes with a crisp string of shots from range, earning a technical knock down. The reset was short lived, as the champion followed with a wild barrage of punches that would seal the deal.

Mighty Mo represents another potential piece in a cold war of boxing stables, giving Top Rank another potential draw to slide under pound for pound kings Vasiliy Lomachenko and a man who watched the fight from ring side, three division champion Terrence “Bud” Crawford.