Fight Preview: Dickens vs. May; Murray & Flanagan Return
By: Ste Rowen
As 2019 heads into the peak of summer, the boxing schedule is beginning to get busy again. With Pacquiao vs. Thurman on the horizon, this weekend includes Brant/Murata2, Dubois/Gorman, Joyce/Jennings and Vargas/Kameda, just to name a few. To add to that excitement, on Friday at Liverpool’s Olympia, fighting for the vacant IBF ‘European’ featherweight belt, James ‘Jazza’ Dickens tops the bill against Australian, Nathaniel May.
Dickens, 26-3 (11KOs), probably unfairly, is most famously known for getting his jaw disjointed by former pound-for-pound player, Guillermo Rigondeaux, but since then ‘Jazza’ has accumulated four wins from five, with the one defeat coming via technical decision after nine rounds vs. Thomas Ward ten months after the Rigondeaux loss.
But the southpaw featherweight sounded confident ahead of Friday,
‘‘We are going to war. I’m looking forward to it…I’m going into a fight, what’s he gonna do? Punch me.
I’ve never lost in the Olympia, it’s just a great place for boxing…Before I take this European title there’s nothing after that other than a world title.’’
His opponent, Nathaniel May, 21-1 (12KOs) of Australia criticised his British foes power, or lack of and was convinced he didn’t travel to the other side of the world to go home with nothing. May hasn’t lost since his fifth fight where he drop a decision to 6-5, Waylon Law. Since then ‘Cheeky’ has mostly stayed close to home to rebuild again from defeat, that was until last year when he won his first two bouts outside of Oceania.
In October last year, Nathaniel outpointed Ruslan Berchuk in Belfast, and then just last month, the 23-year-old was in Tijuana, Mexico where he knocked out home fighter, Jose Miguel Tamayo inside a round. On Friday May will be up against another hostile crowd, but more importantly a much bigger challenge.
Two of England’s best also feature on Friday’s card, flying somewhat lower on the radar than usual as four-time world title challenger Martin Murray, 37-5-1 (17KOs) takes on late replacement Rui Manuel Pavanito, 10-8-1. The St Helens native was set to fight the much sterner test in Kim Poulsen, but Murray, who ended last year with a decision defeat to Hassan N’Dam, isn’t letting the change of opponent faze him, or anything for that matter.
Murray spoke on Wednesday about his underwhelming 2018, but his brighter outlook for the rest of his career,
‘‘If you ask me now, I’m nor arsed about anything. I’m in a good place mentally. Every fight now is a bonus…Even last year I had a good year, but I didn’t enjoy myself or the training. Now, for me it’s just about getting in there and enjoying myself.
There’s a saying, ‘You get out of it what you put in’ but I think it’s bullshit. I grafted my arse off last year and what did I get for it?…I’m fighting now cos I want to fight.’’
Former WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan hopes to put an end to his two-fight losing streak with victory over WBF African champion, Jonas Segu, 19-8-2 (6KOs). ‘Turbo’ Flanagan is fighting for the first time since his decision defeat to Regis Prograis in the junior-welterweight World Boxing Super Series in October 2018. It was a loss that followed the first defeat in Terry’s professional career when he dropped a split decision to Maurice Hooker in June.
Flangan, 33-2 (13KOs) sounded determined to not only get the taste for winning again, but also join the elite again at 135lbs,
‘‘I believe I can still win a world title at ten stone but the best opportunities for me now are at lightweight…I’m not one for shouting my mouth off, I just like to let my boxing do the talking but it’s not always a good thing though (for exposure).
I thought probably the pound-for-pound best in the division (Prograis) and I thought it was a close fight. Now I’m back down to win a world title.’’
The fight card will be aired on ESPN+ and live on IFL TV on Friday.
WBSS on DAZN Results: Prograis Defeats Flanagan; Baranchyk Stops Yigit
By: Ste Rowen
Tonight in The Big Easy, it was anything but easy viewing for the main event audience as, Regis Prograis battled his way to a unanimous decision victory over terry Flanagan; and, in more pleasant viewing, Ivan Baranchyk became the new IBF 140lb champion to score a 7th round technical stoppage over Anthony Yigit; both to progress to the semi-finals of their respective WBSS semi-finals.
Prograis now moves on to face Kiryl Relikh in the semi-finals; whilst Baranchyk faces the winner of next week’s matchup between Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin.
Both main event fighter’s southpaws, Prograis and Flanagan, were clearly weary of the other’s qualities as the two WBSS quarterfinalists fought off a steady jab through the early rounds into the 4th. ‘Turbo’ was in the fight but offering very little other than making it difficult for Prograis to initiate a substantial offense.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Both boxers seemed more mobile through the middle rounds, but there was only one man, home fighter Regis, who wanted to bring the excitement tonight. Flanagan seemed to have resigned himself to the occasional overhand counter. The Manchester native’s combinations weren’t quick enough to land on ‘Rougarou’.
At the end of round 6, Prograis gestured to his home crowd to pick up the atmosphere, a sure sign that the fight was lacking action. The American, in black and gold shorts, did his best to break out a fight but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and the away fighter had no desire to dance anything but his own moves.
With just over two minutes left of the 8th, Prograis dropped Flanagan. ‘Turbo’ took the 8-count and the onslaught that followed from the WBC ‘Interim’ champ, to survive the round. Now the crowd was making the noise Regis wanted to hear. But the 9th began as if the previous round hadn’t happened, ‘Turbo’ persisted with his earlier tactics, and Prograis reverted to a jab and hook manoeuvre.
Through 10 and 12, more of the same occurred as the American looked for a way in, but Terry nullified most shots that came his way, without firing back with his own arsenal.
It’s not hard to see what Flanagan’s plan was at the start of tonight’s bout, it is difficult however, to understand what ‘Turbo’ was looking to do in the championship rounds. The former WBO lightweight champion did very little in terms of attack compared to ‘Rougarou’ and by the final bell it felt as if the Manchester fighter came to survive rather than to win. Regis’ jab ruled the fight throughout and saw him to the final bell.
It was never in doubt as the crowd waited for the judge’s final scorecards. The announcer called, 119-108, 118-109, 117-110 all for Regis Prograis, who spoke after the fight,
‘‘I want to bring big time boxing back to New Orleans and guess what? I did it. We gonna do it again.’’
‘‘I boxed my ass off. Most people say I can’t box, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I only got power, now I showed you I can go 12 rounds with a world class fighter…It doesn’t matter who the hell I fight, the Muhammad Ali trophy is mine.’’
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit
Baranchyk ‘The Beast’ may have been born in Belarus, but the super-lightweight has made his home in the US, and tonight it seemed as though he’d made his home in New Orleans as he fell into his stride early on into tonight’s bout.
From the first bell both fighters went in search for the big, finisher. Yigit, the southpaw struggled to make as much as an impact as his Belarussian opponent who, on multiple occasions through the early rounds, impactfully jerked the Swedes head back.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Yigit was throwing well, but volume counts for nothing if it doesn’t land. Baranchyk was living to his pseudonym of ‘The Beast’ into rounds 2 and 3 as he landed with precision, rarely wasting shots, and though at times he was using his face as his best defence, Ivan’s chin stood up and allowed him to fire off hooks more efficiently.
It seems a little lazy to compare an eastern European fighter to Gennady Golovkin but, Baranchyk really does resemble an early day’s version of the Kazakh. Ivan seems to trust so much in his chin and accuracy that he’s prepared to go toe to toe, and jaw to jaw, with whatever opponent he faces.
Into round 4 there was now swelling below Yigit’s left eye. The pressure seemed beginning to tell, but the Swedish southpaw clearly hadn’t got the message as he rushed into attacks, attempting to restrain his foe’s outside game. It wasn’t working, and by the 6th, Yigit’s left eye looked ready to blow. Baranchyk was firing from all angles, and almost without meaningful reply by now, but he knew where the most valuable punches needed to land.
Through to the 7th, no one could question Anthony’s desire. As his eye only swelled further, the Swede, 21-0-1 (7KOs) heading into tonight, seemed to have no quit in him. Though surely only being able to see out of one eye. Yigit was prepared to go head to head with one of the 140lb division’s most dangerous boxers, meeting Baranchyk in the middle of the ring when, arguably, he should have been evading attack trying to tire his opponent out.
With a minute left of round 7, the referee, Phil Edwards, took a point from Baranchyk for what seemed to be pushing down on his opponent. Harsh considering when up close, Yigit seemed to be ducking. It didn’t matter though as, at the end of the same round, the ring doctor took another extensive look at the Swede’s eye and called an end to the bout, sending the Belarussian into the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Yigit fiercely protested against the stoppage but it seemed the good doctor saved the Swede from himself. Yigit will walk away from tonight with credit in the bank and, a very worthy and attractive contender.
Baranchyk however, comes away from tonight as the IBF world champion and the second Super Series semi-finalist, set to face either Josh Taylor or Ryan Martin in the near future.
Speaking post-fight, the defeated Yigit was magnanimous in defeat,
‘‘Obviously, I am a fighter and you never want a fight to be stopped but maybe it was the right decision. People are telling me it looks pretty bad…Our game plan was to take him later on because we felt like he was gassing out…But they stopped the fight, so I couldn’t fulfil the game plan. He’s a hard hitter and he deserves this win.’’
The new IBF super-lightweight champion, Ivan, now 19-0 (12KOs), was complimentary towards his opponent,
‘‘It was a tough fight, but I win this fight. I win. He’s a tough guy but I love this. Anthony is a good guy, thank you…With him (Trainer, Pedro Diaz) I will win the Ali trophy.’’
WBSS Preview: Prograis vs. Flanagan; Baranchyk vs. Yigit on DAZN
By: Ste Rowen
‘‘You walk up the street and people ask you ‘Did you win your fight?’ and you have to say no for the first time. ‘‘
Defeat never comes easy for an undefeated fighter. Terry Flanagan, the former WBO lightweight champion was 33-0 (13KOs) when he stepped into the ring with Maurice Hooker, at Manchester Arena four months ago. Watch the fight Saturday night on DAZN.
The north west native known as ‘Turbo’ isn’t the prettiest boxer even at his dominant best – see his WBO defences since winning the belt against the likes of Derry Matthews, Mzonke Fana and what felt like a never-ending bout with Petr Petrov. But the one running theme through Terry’s fights seemed to be the feeling he was a level above each and every opponent he faced.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Then he took the step up to super-lightweight after failing to secure unifications with the likes of former champions, Anthony Crolla, Jorge Linares and current 135lb titlist, Lomachenko. Manager Steve Wood and promoter Frank Warren maneuvered ‘Turbo’ into a position to fight for the vacant 140lb strap, recently dropped by the undisputed, Terence Crawford, and after a delay caused by a hand injury for Flanagan, Hooker and Terry were set to meet on the 9th June.
On fight night in June, southpaw, Flanagan looked out of sorts while his American foe was composed and patient. ‘Turbo’ constantly led in with his head, which it was revealed after the fight, had the adverse effect and not just for the viewers. Terry apparently sustained a concussion from the clashing of heads and suffered through the final rounds as Hooker took pot-shots off the southpaw’s face to seal a unanimous decision win for the American.
Terry lost, but months later, managed to seal his spot in the Super Series and have an opportunity for immediate redemption. Now Flanagan travels to New Orleans to face another America. Unbeaten WBC champion and #1 seed of the tournament, Regis Prograis.
‘‘They’re expecting to wipe the floor with me but it’s not gonna be the case…I see the fight against Prograis as 50/50 with us both having our own strengths, but I just think my assets stop his and therefore I win. I think what I bring to the table neutralise his strengths and that is the difference. I expect to get the credit I duly deserve after winning this fight.”
“The world boxing series is a new chapter…I believe I’m the best fighter on the planet on my day and I’m looking to show that in this tournament.‘‘
Regis Prograis has had a quick rise into boxing stardom. A former standout amateur who always aims to please, Prograis is one of two current WBC 140lb champions – Jose Ramirez being the other – ‘Rougarou’ as Prograis is otherwise known by, has a record of 22-0 (19KOs) including impressive stoppage victories over Joel Diaz Jr, Hector Velazquez and arguably his biggest win to date, a 2nd round TKO of former unified champion, Julius Indongo.
“All my fights are explosive no matter who is in front of me. I always bring the fireworks.”
In all three of the mentioned bouts Regis displayed not just the power that makes him an obvious fan favourite and the tournament’s top seed, but outstanding boxing fundamentals. A thudding single jab, the continuous fluid head & body movement and the devastating efficiency with which once he senses the opportunity for an early finish, ‘Rougarou’ goes hard on the accelerator.
“Flanagan is a really tough dude, a former world champion. I want to fight top competition and that is why I picked him. I know I am good, but I never look at myself as the favourite…I am the number one in the world and everyone fighting me sees me as a big opportunity.”
Saturday’s venue is the Lakefront Arena in Prograis’ native home of New Orleans, and the way Regis is talking, it could be a long journey to nothing for Flanagan,
“I am the number 1 seed so of course there is pressure on me, but I feel a lot better than last time I fought in New Orleans, where it felt like work and the pressure weighed on me a bit. This time I think the pressure is out of the window. This time it is going back to being fun.”
“This is not just a boxing show, when I fight in New Orleans it is a big-time event.”
A fight in the semi-finals against WBA champion, Kiryl Relikh awaits.
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit
Also on Saturday’s card is the 3rd super-lightweight quarter final between two unbeaten fighters, Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit with the vacant IBF belt on the line.
18-0 (11KOs), Baranchyk of Belarus has been progressing at the perfect pace ever since making his move the US. ‘The Beast’s’ first three pro bouts were in Minsk before he set flight to America and began to build his name against limited opposition. From 2015 Ivan’s quality of opposition rose, as did his performances as he picked up victories over the likes of a 17-1-2, Abel Ramos but more recently, a superb dismantling of Petr Petrov in March on the undercard of Prograis/Indongo.
The manner of the victory more than the win itself solidified Baranchyk’s status as future world title contender, and his attitude toward the sport backs that up,
“I’ve never known and couldn’t even imagine life without boxing…If there is no competition I simply just cannot live without it.”
Ivan may be known as the beast, but he’s more than willing to show his versatility as his pro career progresses,
“My boxing style is aggressive. I’m constantly attacking, fighting to the very end…I’m trying to learn the Cuban way of boxing as it is respected all over the world. Pedro (Diaz) is one of the best coaches in the world and I want learn everything from him.”
“Anthony Yigit is a good boxer, a good fighter…I know all his strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been waiting for him for a long time and on the 27th I will destroy him in the ring.”
The big talk from the Belarussian is unlikely to have an effect on his Swedish opponent, and fellow unbeaten fighter, Anthony Yigit. Speaking in the WBSS pre-fight documentary, the Swede, currently 21-0-1 (7KOs), isn’t short of self-belief,
“I’m a nice guy here but if you go into the ring with me I know you’re in my way of me reaching that goal of where I want to be. When I started boxing I believed I was gonna become a world champion…In Sweden we have nine million people and no world champion. I’m gonna be one in nine million.”
Yigit, a former 2012 Olympian where he was beaten by Ukrainian, Denys Berinchyk, has shown so far in the pro ranks that if he lacks anything, it’s probably power, but the Stockholm southpaw has no intention of losing to another man with ‘chyk’ in his name,
“When I saw Usyk lift the Ali trophy I said, ‘That’s where I wanna be’ and that’s where I’m gonna be! … People have been telling me they can see something in my eyes, something that wasn’t there before.”
Winner of this matchup will go on to face either Josh Taylor or Ryan Martin, who fight next week in Glasgow.
Check out the WBSS pre-fight documentaries for both of Saturdays bouts here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYbJzjdzbAA
European Boxing Notebook: Fury, Flanagan, Hyland, Fielding, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
Hello and welcome along to Boxing Insider’s European Boxing Notebook, covering everything you need to know from the world of boxing over here in the UK and on the continent – it’s been a sensational couple of weeks so let’s get straight into the action;
Fury’s less than furious comeback
Tyson Fury returned to the ring on June 9th with a cacophony of hype, glamour and ecstasy surrounding the lineal champion’s return to the ring after an extended period of absence – two and a half years.
Fighting at the Manchester Arena in front of 20,000 fans, the opponent chosen was Sefer Seferi from Albania and whilst everyone knew, going in, that this was THE Tyson Fury show and, even, that Seferi had shown nothing worthy of warranting a place in the ring with the Brit, NO-ONE knew just how poor Seferi was going to be.
Coming into the ring a diminutive figure, looking half the size of Fury – who, despite having lost 8st, still looked a good 1.5-2st out of shape – the mockery of the sport began instantaneously with Fury jumping around with a big smile on his face and Seferi whipping out an Ali shuffle of his own.
The fight lasted four rounds during which few shots were thrown from either man – probably none that landed from Sefer – but Tyson Fury, to his credit, looked loose and liquid-like in his movement, still as active as ever before, sharp and energetic.
He looked happy in the ring and, as we all know, you need to be happy in yourself in order to perform at your best. Ring rust was non-existent but it would have been nicer, far nicer, to see Tyson really go for it and pummel Sefer Seferi as quickly as he could.
Make no mistake, if Fury had pushed the case, Seferi could have been bounced out of the ring back to Albania, quite literally, within one round.
Tyson Fury will return to the ring on August 18th at Windsor Park but if we are, truly, to believe this comeback will result in a long-term Tyson then he’ll need a far better performance against a far better opponent.
Faltering Flanagan, the bait on Mo’s Hook(er)
On that same card we witnessed Terry Flanagan stepping up in weight to fight for the vacant WBO Super Lightweight Championship of the World against, little-fancied, Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker.
Hooker, going in to this fight, was dismissed extensively by British fight fans – myself included – who saw him as little other than an easy win for Terry Flanagan; there were odds of 6’s and 7’s being offered on Hooker just minutes before the bell rang.
Terry Flanagan started off slowly but with more intent, looking in control, whereas Mo Hooker began with fire in his belly, seeking to rough up and annoy the British favourite and, boy, it worked.
Truth be told it took a gaping cut and a cascade of claret down the face of Flanagan to really get him into gear. Aware that time was not his friend, the cut worsening, he really exploded into life sending barrage after barrage of combinations towards Hooker.
The rounds would follow the same pattern, however, with Hooker coming on strong in the final 90 seconds and, ultimately, it was Flanagan’s footwork that seemed to be his downfall getting his feet almost, metaphorically, in a tangle with him never seeming too confident in where to place them.
We went to the scorecards and with two judges giving it 117-111, albeit one to Flanagan and one to Hooker, we headed to a split decision with the third judge giving it 115-113 to the American challenger.
A horrible fight to watch, make your own mind up on the scorecard.
Lewis Leather’s Hyland
Lewis Ritson produced a stonking performance as he returned to the North East to win the British Lightweight title OUTRIGHT by stopping Paul Hyland Jr in the very first round – dropping him on three occasions.
Now with seven successive fights ending before the final bell, Lewis Ritson has need just four rounds in his last three bouts to finish off Joe Murray, Scott Cardle and Hyland – all were expected to be his “toughest challenge yet”.
An absolute superstar in the North East the mission, for Hearn, is now to turn him into a global sensation because he certainly has the talent to get there; domestically he’s a step above but the gap to world level is even bigger so finding the right for Ritson is going to be mighty hard over the next 12 months.
Josh Kelly was another stellar fighter in action at the Metro Radio Arena, co-headlining, but he left the fight with more questions asked than answered. Kelly looks phenomenal when going forward and attacking but from a defensive point of view, he shows very little of the fundamentals and looks likely that he could get caught out against elite fighters.
Rocky’s Road to Germany
Announced over the past week was Rocky Fielding’s challenge to Tyron Zeuge’s WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight title, the bout to take place on July 14th in Offenburg, Germany.
For about a month, now, we were aware that Zeuge’s next defence would take place against either Fielding or John Ryder but, Rocky was the man who got the nod with the 26-1 fighter looking to move to higher heights having vacated his British and Commonwealth Super Middle belts earlier this year.
Fielding’s only loss came way back in 2015, as he was viciously exposed in a fight with Callum Smith, dropping Fielding three times in the first round before the bout was waved off; since then Fielding has bounced back with five successive wins with the standout performances being against John Ryder and David Brophy.
Zeuge, on the other hand, will enter the ring with a 22-0-1 record having defended his title three times since claiming it via a 12th round KO over Giovanni De Carolis – arguably one of the worst world champions of all time – and was most recently in action back in March with a two round demolition job over Isaac Ekpo.
Fielding represents the toughest test for Zeuge and vice versa, save for Callum Smith, but should Rocky come back to Britain with the belt, bring on a super-fight between him and the winner of George Groves and Callum Smith for THE proper WBA belt.
Whyte poo-poo’s Kubrat
Dillian Whyte has withdrawn from his IBF final eliminator contest against Kubrat Pulev after it emerged that fight was edging even closer to being hosted in Bulgaria; Eddie Hearn, Whyte’s promoter, lost the purse bids in sensational fashion and Dillian Whyte will now face Joseph Parker, live on Sky Sports Box Office, on July 28th.
Eddie Hearn says this fight sends a big “f**k you all” to the boxing community but, if anything, it screams of hypocrisy after having accused all the big names of avoiding Dillian Whyte, also WBC number 1, before avoiding the golden opportunity of forcing a MANDATED rematch with Anthony Joshua.
Take nothing away from this fight, however, it’s a brilliant contest by Dillian Whyte who gets the opportunity to really produce a big performance against a fighter, still, at the top of his game.
Parker will view this as his opportunity to bounce back, immediately, into the world title scene as well as a chance to upset the apple cart and with the Kiwi having been AJ’s last opponent there is a direct yardstick for which you can measure up Dillian Whyte’s performance.
Josh Leather’s Leave of Absence
Josh Leather has decided to take an extended leave of absence from the boxing ring and has withdrawn from his fight against Ohara Davies on June 23rd at the O2. Leather was being lined up for a potential block-buster of fights including himself, Davies, Jack Catterall and Terry Flanagan but, having split with his trainer, it will be a long time before he returns to the ring.
Hopefully for fight fans Leather can find his love for the sport, again, because he’s a cracking boxer.
BoxNation and Frank Warren are ON A BREAK!
Today (June 19th) BoxNation have announced their broadcast agreement with Frank Warren will cease to exist as of July 1st with the channel’s founder now taking his shows exclusively to BT Sport – with whom he has signed a multi-year agreement, believed to be until 2022.
This doesn’t mean an end to the 24-hour subscription channel, however, who will continue their exclusive output deal with Top Rank as well as airing other international shows, at least 12 cards a year from MTL Global and, who knows, the World Boxing Super Series?
British Boxing Purse Bids –
This will be nice and snappy because there’s a lot to get through;
Jason Welborn (Holder) will defend his middleweight title against Tommy Langford – the man he won the belt off – after a request for the rematch was approved, having been put forward by his promoter. The winner of the bout will be required to defend against Mark Heffron when called to do so.
Asinia Byfield and Ted Cheeseman will meet for the vacant Super Welterweight title after the withdrawal of Liam Williams and Joe Pigford from proposed bouts with Byfield. Eddie Heard has confirmed his intention to put the fight on.
The British super lightweight belt has been sent to purse bids with Glenn Foot vs Robbie Davies Jr the two chosen challengers for the vacant belt whilst Akeem Ennis Brown and Joe Hughes have been mandated in an eliminator.
Liam Conroy (Holder) will, again, face Miles Shinkwin for the English Light Heavyweight belt after their first fight ended in controversy with Conroy appearing to land a series of shots to the back of Shinkwin’s head; the purse bid was won by David Haye and the fight is likely to take place on terrestrial TV in either Dave or Channel 5. Ricky Summers and Craig Richards are set to meet in an eliminator.
Elliott Matthews vacated his English Middleweight title and Reece Cartwright, IBF Youth champion, and Tyler Denny have been selected by the board of the control as the two challengers for the belt.
There we have it, then, the best bits from British and European boxing over the past two weeks, it’s been stupendously busy but I’ll give the last nod to David Allen who travels to Paris on June 23rd to face , Rio 2016 gold medallist, Tony Yoka .
Maurice Hooker Makes Terry Flanagan Eat His Words
By: Ken Hissner
Fighting Saturday for the vacant WBO World Super Lightweight title WBO World Lightweight Champion southpaw Terry “Turbo” Flanagan, 33-1 (13), of Manchester, UK, suffered his first loss losing a split decision to American Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker, 24-0-3 (16), of Dallas, TX, over 12 rounds.
The bout was held at the Manchester Arena in the UK with scores for Hooker by 117-111 and 115-113 and a 117-111 for Flanagan. The Referee was Terry O’Connor of the UK.
Prior to the fight Flanagan made the statement pertaining to his opponent Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker as “just another American”.
It was only the second time Hooker fought outside of the US. His other bout was February 2017 when he defeated former IBF World Featherweight champion Cristobal Cruz, in Tijuana, MEX, over 10 rounds. Hooker was the WBO NABO Super Lightweight champion at the time.
Hooker’s three draws started in his debut in April of 2011, against Tyrone Chatman, 7-1, of St. Louis, MO, at the Orpheum Theater, in St. Louis, MO. It was a split draw with each fighter getting a vote and the third a draw.
In January of 2014 Hooker was held to a majority draw by Abel Ramos, 8-0, of Casa Grande, AZ, at the Cook Convention Center, in Memphis, TN. Hooker got one of the votes.
In Hooker’s last draw in November of 2016 he fought to a split draw with former interim WBA Lightweight champion Darleys Perez, then 33-2-1, at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, NV. Each fighter received a winning vote.
In August of 2017 in Hooker’s previous fight with Flanagan he defeated Courtney Jackson, then 18-0, of Homestead, FL, with winning scores of 100-90 twice and 99-91. It was held at the Omni Dallas Hotel, in Dallas, TX.
Hooker had an 85-7 amateur record and was a Dallas Regional Golden Gloves champion. The 28 year-old Hooker was the No. 2 contender defeating the No. 1 contender Flanagan. Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo, 27-0 (17), of Oklahoma City, OK, is the No. 3 contender. He holds the WBA-NABA USA and the WBO NABO titles. He is also the No. 2 contender in the WBA with the title being held by Kiryl “Mad Bee” Relikh, 22-2 (19), of Minsk, Belarus.
The win over Flanagan proves Hooker is not “just another American” opponent but now the WBO World Super Lightweight Champion!