Boxing Insider Interview: Maurice Hooker: Laying Claim as the Boogey Man at 140?
By: Kirk Jackson
“I’m here to show the world that I am ‘The Boogeyman’ and that I’m one of the best at 140.”
Apparently, Errol Spence isn’t the only ‘Boogeyman’ wandering around the landscape of boxing. Fellow Dallas native Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker 25-0-3 (17 KO’s) believes he holds the mantle as the Boogey Man at 140 lbs.
Heading into his third title fight, second defense of his world title and third consecutive fight across enemy lines, Hooker believes the other junior welterweights are wary of his abilities after repeat successful performances under demanding circumstances.
— Maurice Hooker (@mightymohooker) August 31, 2018
At the very least, Hooker believes he is the ‘Boogeyman’ for Bob Arum and his stable of Top Rank fighters.
“I can box, I can go toe-to-toe, I’m ready for whoever they put in front of me and I’m always looking for a knock out. Bob Arum doesn’t want his champion (Jose Ramirez) to lose the belt, then what? He’ll have no more champions at 140.”
“He tried to give my belt to Alex Saucedo so they’d have two champions at 140 (junior welterweight) but that didn’t work, so now I think they’re gonna try to stay away from me.”
The other champion Hooker is referring to when interviewed by Boxing Insider, is the current WBC junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez 24-0 (16 KO’s). When pressed for a possible opponent if successful this weekend against undefeated challenger Mikkel LesPierre 21-0-1 (10 KO’s), Hooker mentioned the desire
“To me it’s whoever. I’d love to unify and fight Jose Ramirez for the WBC title in June. Pretty much I’ll fight anybody in June.”
“Nah I think that fight would be very hard to make because I’d don’t think Bob would want me to take out another one of his guys. I already took out Alex Saucedo and we don’t hear no word from him no more. I don’t think he wants me to away another guy, but if the fight (Ramirez) happens I would love it.”
Whether Hooker is truly the ‘Boogeyman’ at junior welterweight is yet to be truly determined. But what we do know is he possesses great mental strength to consistently challenge and defeat opponents on their own turf. And Hooker encountered various bumps, bruises and adversity along the way.
The adversity ‘Mighty Mo’ overcame thus far appears in various forms.
“Ahh yes my fight with Darleys Perez 34-4-2- (22 KO’s). A week before the fight I went to the doctor, my ear was bothering me. I went to the doctor and I had a hole in my ear, in my ear drum. He gave me some ear drops to take before the fight and he said before the fight I’d be good before the fight and it would close the hole.”
“But come fight night, I guess the hole didn’t close, I didn’t have an ear drum. It was the worst fight ever, I got in the ring and the ring was shaking, I couldn’t get my balance, I was off the whole fight.”
Another form of adversity came when Hooker clashed with undefeated Alex Saucedo in front of his hometown fans in Oklahoma City. This fight is where Hooker would suffer a knockdown in front of a ruckus crowd.
“I just got caught in the second round, first round was pretty easy to me and I came out the second round cocky and careless and he caught me with a good shot. It was a good shot, it was a flash knockdown, I wasn’t hurt at all. I knew from there I gotta take the guy seriously and my coach told me to take one round at a time and that’s what we did and I got up and took it to him.”
— Roc Nation Sports (@RocNationSports) February 26, 2019
As things are heading into the semi-finals round of the World Boxing Super Series tournament, the junior welterweight division is heating up.
Another fighter if not considered the ‘Boogeyman’ of the division, at the very least regarded as one of the best fighters at junior welterweight, Regis Prograis 23-0 (19 KO’s) is on Hooker’s radar and a someone he has mean intentions towards.
“Uhh, I just don’t like him. He (Prograis) don’t care. I don’t like that guy, he feel like he’s the Boogeyman at 140 and I feel like I am too. I tell everybody I want the best at 140, and if Regis Prograis is the best than I want him. I guess he took it the wrong way, I don’t care how he takes it, he got defensive, I just hope he does good in the tournament.”
“Josh Taylor asked me to watch him but I hear he’s pretty good. I don’t care who wins the tournament, I just want to fight whoever wins it and go from there. For the tournament I don’t care who wins, I just want the winner but as far as the tournament I think he (Prograis) has a good chance of winning it.”
Whether these two match up remains to be seen. Fortunately, if they are to match in theory, the fans will be treated to a wonderful display of boxing with both guys going for the knock out.
But in order for Hooker to be recognized at the ‘Boogeyman’ or better yet as the flat out best in his division or even pound-for-pound caliber, he must continue to seek great challenges which includes fighting the best and moving up in weight for even greater contests.
If unification is the goal, ideally Ramirez would be next up and in succession facing the winner of the WBSS tournament, who would then have the other two world titles (IBF and WBA).
“The winner of the tournament, I’d love to fight the winner of the tournament, that’s my ideal next fight the winner of the tournament.”
Depending how things turn out tournament wise and promotion wise, we’ll see which match-ups are made. The last guy to occupy the throne as the best fighter at junior welterweight was able to unify the division to become undisputed champion – a rare feat only accomplished by Mike Tyson, Terence Crawford, Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr., Lennox Lewis and Cecelia Braekhus.
“I want to be like what Terence Crawford did. He had all the belts, he was the best at 140 then he moved up. What he did is what I want to do. That’s the goal but first if I move up, I wanna take over 140. I have to take over 140 before I move up.”
Hooker continues his quest this weekend.
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Boxing Insider Interview: Maurice Hooker: Boxing’s Road Warrior Striving for Greatness
By: Kirk Jackson
Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker defends his WBO World Super Lightweight title for the second time against undefeated Mikkel LesPierre 21-0-1 (10 KO’s) 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.
Continuing his role as the ‘Road Warrior’ Hooker won his title on the road by playing spoiler, snatching it from the former undefeated WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (at the time 33-0 [13 KO’s]) in Manchester, England just two days shy of his birthday.
Hooker then traveled behind enemy lines for his first defense, overcoming adversity and placing together an exhilarating win over local favorite Alex Saucedo 28-1 (18 KO’s) in Oklahoma City in November of last year. Hooker climbed up off the canvas in the second round to stop Saucedo in the seventh.
Hooker once again travels behind enemy territory to New York, placing his WBO title on the line against Brooklyn’s LesPierre – who would be Hooker’s fourth consecutive undefeated opponent. Although facing home field disadvantage, ‘Mighty Mo’ anticipates success in the form of a knock-out for his title defense.
“With me, I really don’t care where I fight, the ring is my home. It don’t matter where I fight, I just gotta be prepared and ready.”
“I just gotta go in there and do me ya know. Make him adapt to me and I’m gonna use my jab. I watch him but I don’t see nothing that I’m really concerned about with his style. I don’t want to overlook him and I just gotta be prepared for whatever he brings come Saturday night.”
While Hooker is regarded as the heavy favorite, he doesn’t want to overlook his opponent LesPierre and realizes the challenger is coming into this fight hungry with the intention of an upset.
“To me it doesn’t matter who I fight. But this guy’s (LesPierre) is undefeated, but it’s hard to take somebody’s zero. I rather fight somebody undefeated than someone who got a couple losses already. Once they lost, they give up already. When they’re undefeated, it’s hard to take their zero, it’s hard to break them down.”
“He’s going to be more motivated, nervous too, but more motivated. He’s at home fighting for a world title, he’s the underdog this should motivate him, he’s gonna come prepared. This guy is pretty good, he’s durable, he never been knocked out, he won all his fights. You just can’t overlook this guy because you never know what he might bring come Saturday. I’m just ready.”
The role of the ‘Road Warrior’ the proverbial villain – at least on the road, is a role Hooker embraces. The boo’s, the negativity from fans, even the trash talk, fuels Hooker to train harder and perform under pressure. The distractions from the crowd do not prevent him from finding a measure of comfort inside the ring and getting into his ‘Zone.’
“When the fans are booing me and cheering for them, it motivates me to even go harder. Something about the crowd gets to me, being the underdog, getting booed.”
“Sometimes you’re the underdog, but sometimes it goes your way, makes you train even harder. Like I said, once I get in the ring, I’m very comfortable and I’m so zoned in.”
“I focus on that guy and the fans? What are they going to do, cheer? It’s nothing, as long as I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the fans are gonna be quiet.”
🗣 “I’m ready to show the world that I’ve got power in both hands.”@mightymohooker says he’s wanting to make a real statement on Saturday night 💥 #HookerLesPierre #BivolSmithJr pic.twitter.com/5hgcZpeyq6
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) March 6, 2019
“A lot of people take it wrong when I say I’m going to knock the other guy out but that’s the name of the game. A lot of people will say he’s big-headed, he’s this and that, but I put that in my mind the quicker I knock em out the quicker I get paid.”
“A lot of people think I’m cocky for saying stuff like that, like when I fought Terry Flanagan, I told him I wanna punch him in the mouth – I mean come on its boxing you’re gonna get hit in the mouth. A lot people take it the wrong way, I’m pretty sure the dude (LesPierre) I’m fighting on Saturday wants to knock me out. It’s boxing, we both knock each other out, people take it the wrong way, but once they interview me or get to know me they find out I’m a cool person.”
Clearing any misconceptions, Hooker is steadfast in stating his dedication towards family and exhibits a laid-back demeanor in during his time outside the ring.
“I like to hang out with my kids and my family I’m a real laid back person. I like to sit back watch tv or play with my kids, take my kids out somewhere to have fun. I’m real laid back.”
Nevertheless his laid back demeanor should not be mistaken for weakness or complacency for that matter. Hooker wants to achieve greatness like other great fighters before him, fighters he admittedly admired growing up. Fighters such as Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, Muhammad Ali and Tommy Hearns.
“I watch him (Tommy Hearns) a lot, I like his left hook to the body – I wanna get that down like how he had it. His left hook to the body, he had a good one.”
“When it’s all said and done I wanna be one of the best like Muhammad Ali. I want everyone to remember my name, I want everyone to know that I’ll go anywhere and fight anybody.”
Hooker realizes these aspirations and overall worldwide recognition requires greater accomplishments down the line. Starting with conquering his current division and obtaining more, ascending towards mythical pound-for-pound status.
“That’s the goal but first if I move up (in weight class), I wanna take over 140. I have to take over 140 before I move up.”
“When you say pound-for-pound, I look at pound-for-pound different. I’m looking at the different weight classes, how many titles you won in a different weight class. I would say Terence Crawford right now, he’s been in the game a little longer than Errol Spence. He had a belt at 135, he had all the belts at 140, he now has a belt at 147. You look at Mikey Garcia, but later on in Errol Spence’s career, I’ll say he’ll be pound-for-pound; if he moves up in weight or if he dominates at 147.”
“To me I’m not on the list yet, I haven’t accomplished some of my goals. To get on the list I have to keep working hard and keep pushing myself to win more titles and to put my name out there even more. But I’m not up there yet, I’m working, that’s one of my goals.”
By facing his fourth consecutive undefeated fighter in the challenger’s backyard, Hooker is making a statement. Hooker is chasing greatness and aims to establish his reputation as one of the best to ever do it. While the champion from Dallas known as ‘Mighty Mo’ has a steep mountain to climb, he won’t allow detractors and nay-sayers keep him down or from achieving his goals.
“I stay focused and I don’t wanna get cocky or too big headed and I keep pushin because I know I can better than where I’m at now.”
Maurice Hooker: “I Feel I Am the Best”
By: Sean Crose
WBO World Super Lightweight Champion Maurice Hooker (25-0) is looking forward to facing Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1) this Saturday, March 9th, at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona New York, on a card to be aired live on the DAZN streaming service. The Dallas, Texas native is also looking forward to eventually facing off against an opponent in his hometown. “It would mean so much to me to fight in Dallas as a champion,” Hooker says. “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.”
“Dallas,” says Hooker, “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.” As much as he loves the sport, Hooker claims boxing has done more than allow him to win titles and earn money.
“I wasn’t a disciplined kid so boxing taught me a lot,” he says. “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.”
Although Brooklyn’s LesPierre hasn’t lost a fight, Hooker doesn’t see him as the most formidable foe he’s going to face. “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.”
Hooker, who was last seen stopping Alex Saucedo in November of last year, is well aware that he’s in one of the hotter divisions in boxing. “It’s an open division,” he says of the super-lightweight realm, “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.”
DAZN Boxing Preview: Bivol vs. Smith Jr., Hooker vs. LesPierre
By: William Holmes
The Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York will be the host site for Saturday’s latest boxing offering by DAZN and will feature two separate title fights. The co-main event will be between Maurice Hooker and Mikkel LesPierre for the WBO Junior Welterweight Title and between Dmitry Bivol and Joe Smith Jr. for Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight Title.
The undercard also features some entertaining and competitive bout. Callum Johnson will meet Seanie Monaghan in the light heavyweight division, Sergey Kuzmin will meet Joey Dawejko in the heavyweight division, and Yamaguchi Falcao and Paul Mendez in the middleweight division. Prospects such as Otha Jones III and Junior Younan will also be featured.
Photo Credit: DAZN Boxing USA Twitter Account
The following is a preview of the two title fights on the card.
Maurice Hooker (25-0-3) vs. Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1); WBO Junior Welterweight Title
Maurice Hooker exploded into the boxing scene when he won the WBO Junior Welterweight Title over Terry Flanagan at the Manchester Arena in Manchester.
He has defended the title once since then and looks to defend again against Mikkel LesPierre.
Hooker will have a three inch height advantage over LesPierre. He will also be five years younger than LesPierre, who is thirty four years old.
Both boxers have been relatively active recently. Hooker fought twice in 2018 and in 2017. LesPierre fought three times in 2018 and three times in 2017.
Both boxers had moderate success as an amateur. Hooker was a Dallas Regional Golden Gloves Champion and LesPierre competed as an amateur with moderate success.
Hooker has beaten the likes of Alex Saucedo, Terry Flanagan, Courtney Jackson, Cristobal Cruz, and Ty Barnett. He had draws with Darleys Perez, Abel Ramos, and Tyron Chatman.
LesPierre has beaten nobody of note. His biggest wins to date were against Gustavo David Vittori, Noel Murphy, and Mario Beltre.
This doesn’t appear to be a very competitive fight for Maurice Hooker. Les Pierre turned pro late and has never faced someone on Hooker’s level. Hooker should walk away with the win.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (24-2); WBA Light Heavyweight Title
Dmitry Bivol is considered by many to be the best light heavyweight in the world. The former amateur Russian National Champion will face the heavy handed Joe Smith Jr.
Both boxers are in their prime with Bivol being 28 years old and Smith being 29 years old. Both boxers are also six feet tall. Bivol does have an edge in amateur experience as e was Russian National Champion and Smith was a New York Golden Gloves Champion.
Smith however, had a big edge in power as he had twenty stoppage victories while Bivol has eleven.
However, Bivol appears ready to face the power of Smith. He stated, “I am ready to fight. I hope Joe is ready too. We will make a great fight.”
Bivol has been the more active boxer of the two. Bivol fought three times in 2018 and four times in 2017. Smith only fought once in 2018, once in 2017, and three times in 2016.
Bivol has defeated the likes of Jean Pascal, Isaac Chilemba, Sullivan Barrera, Trent Broadhurst, Cedric Agnew, and Samuel Clarkson.
Smith has defeated the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Andrzej Fonfara, and Will Rosinsky. His losses were to Sullivan Barrera and Eddie Caminero.
Despite the fact Smith has been defeated before, the magnitude of this title fight is not lost on him. He recently stated, “This is what every fighter dreams of, to get a shot at a world title and this is my shot.”
It will be interesting to see how Bivol responds to a power shot from Smith, if he’s able to land one, but Bivol is a very good technical boxer and he should be able to walk away with the decision.
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!
Rising To The Occasion: Maurice Lee
By: Sean Crose
Some people have tough backgrounds. Others have backgrounds so searing, it’s a wonder they’ve survived, much less prospered. Count Maurice Lee as being among the ranks of that second category. Aside from Manny Pacquiao, and perhaps Gennady Golovkin, this writer has never spoken to someone with such a challenging back story. A 7-1 southpaw from the Floyd Mayweather stable of fighters, Lee’s is nothing if not a story of perseverance. Growing up in California, the super lightweight was largely raised without the presence of a father, as his father was incarcerated. Lee’s mother also had stays in correctional institutions.
As for Lee, the young man found himself street fighting at the age of five so that adults could cash in on the winnings. Then, at the age of eleven, the pre-teen was shot seven times – once in the head. “I still have a bullet fragment in my head,” he tells me. Lee’s brother, who was with him at the time, was also shot. “I had to carry him home,” Lee says of the incident. And yet here Lee is, ready to face Joel Guevara on the undercard of the Ishe Smith – Tony Harrison card, which will be aired live on Bounce TV from Vegas this Friday night.
“I’ve had a very, very hard life,” Lee admits. Through faith, however, the man claims he was able to rise above the circumstances which could have destroyed him. “I felt that was God,” he says of his survival. “I give all glory to God.” Adhering to the adage that God helps those who help themselves, the fighter literally entered into the Mayweather universe unexpectedly several years back. “I just drove to Vegas and knocked at the door and said I’m here to spar Floyd Mayweather,” he says.
Rather than slam the door in his face, the crew at the Mayweather Gym had Lee spar one fighter after another. Then, convinced he was the right man for the job, team Mayweather had Lee spar Floyd himself – in preparation for the superfight with Manny Pacquiao, no less. Afterwards, Lee actually found himself a part of the famed Mayweather stable of fighters. “Man, he just showed me I’m on the right path,” Lee says of Floyd.
Describing the experience of being part of team Mayweather as “a blessing,” Lee points out how he’s been given quite the opportunity. “You’re constantly reminded what you can do with the sport through your promoter,” he says. So, does he see Mayweather himself much these days? “I saw him on his birthday,” says Lee, “and went to his house and hung out.” Lee makes it clear, though, that high living isn’t the only thing Mayweather is about.
“He goes in the zone,” Lee states, recalling Mayweather in training. Indeed, Lee describes the Mayweather training camp as “consistent,” and makes it clear that the words “hard work” were far from a throwaway line for the media. “He works out 2-3 times,” he says of his mentor. “The intensity of his training,” Lee claims, is notable. Lee also puts to rest a rumor that Mayweather took his last fight lightly, due to the nature of the competition. “For McGregor,” Lee claims. “He trained just as hard as he did for Pacquiao.” Something that proved unfortunate for the UFC star.
Lee openly admits that he himself hasn’t shown Mayweather’s dedication in the past, a fact that was highlighted by his last fight, a late 2016 unanimous decision loss to Cameron Krael. Lee, though, states that he learned his lesson. “I know that the only person that beat me was me,” he claims. “That’s what happened to me the last time.” It’s a mistake Lee doesn’t plan on making again. “I’m excited,” he says of his return. “I’m happy to be back in the ring.”
“My main focus is this Friday,” he says. “We’re focused on Friday.” At the moment, the Mayweather protégé is being trained by Jerry Rosenberg. It’s a union Lee is quite happy with. “We’ve been working really well,” he claims. “Great chemistry.” Lee also points out that: “I sparred a lot of middleweights for this fight.” With that in mind, Lee, who will be fighting above super lightweight on Friday night, doesn’t plan on staying out of the division. “After Friday,” he claims, “I will go back to 140.” With a renewed sense of focus and a career plan in place, Lee appears to be back on track after a spiritual detour. “My faith is back,” he adds.
So, it appears, is the man’s confidence. The fighter who was unafraid to knock on the Mayweather door is now eager to fulfill his career promise. “Obviously, I’ve had to work tremendously hard,” he says, “and believe in myself.” How great is that self-belief? If he could fight anyone throughout history, Lee says it would be Roberto Duran. “I would want to test my heart,” he says, knowing that Duran would happily provide such a test. Lee also has a new outlet through which he can practice his self belief. “My daughter was just born February 21st of this year,” he says. Parenting, like fighting, requires a sound outlook.
When asked what final words he would like to say in the interview, Lee suggests people “keep God first…anything is possible through Jesus Christ.” Like other fighters of faith (Manny Pacquiao and George Foreman come immediately to mind) Lee is able to find motivation through his beliefs. And he intends for that motivation to drive him to victory this Friday night in Vegas.
HBO PPV Undercard Results: Curtis Stevens and Oleksandr Gvozdyk Emerge Victorious, Hooker Draws with Perez
HBO PPV Undercard Results: Curtis Stevens and Oleksandr Gvozdyk Emerge Victorious, and Hooker Draws with Perez
By: William Holmes
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for tonight’s HBO PPV card featuring a main event betweenSergey Kovalev and Andre Ward for the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Three bouts were featured on the undercard, and the opening bout was between Curtis Stevens (28-5) and James De La Rosa (23-4) in the middleweight division.
De La Rosa was rocked by a rising left hook from Stevens in the first round and he was on the defensive for most of the opening round. Stevens was able to land a left hook that knocked De La Rosa in the last thirty seconds of the round, but De La Rosa was able to get back to his feet.
De La Rosa had a cut by his left eye in the second round and took heavy shots to the body. However, he was able to start to land his jab in the last minute of the round.
Both fighters let it all fly in the third round and both landed several hard combinations. Stevens got the better of De La Rosa and landed the stronger shots, but he may have spent all of his energy.
De La Rosa began to relay on his jab in the fourth round and was able to keep Stevens at bay, and that jab continued to be successful for De La Rosa in the fifth and sixth rounds and even had Stevens trapped in a corner at multiple points.
De La Rosa looked like the fresher fighter in the seventh round and Stevens was short with most of his punches. Stevens crowded v in the eighth and was able to land some heavy hooks to the body, but he was deducted a point by the referee for landing a low blow.
The announcers felt Stevens may have hurt his left hand in the ninth round since he wasn’t throwing his patented left hook counter like he usually does. The HBO cameras were able to capture Stevens telling his trainer he hurt his left hand in the fourth round
Stevens pressed the action in the final round and landed some heavy shots over the top of De La Rosa’s guard which reopened the cut of De La Rosa, but it was De La Rosa who was raising his hands in the air at the final bell as if he won the fight.
The final scores were 98-90, 96-92, and 96-92 for Curtis Stevens.
The next bout of the night was in the light heavyweight division between Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0).
Both boxers fought out of an orthodox stance and Gvozdyk was backing Chilemba up early with his contant jab. Chilema was able to land his check left hook near the end of the round, but it could have been scored either way.
Chilemba was missing with his hooks in the second round while Gvozdyk was finding a home for his right cross. Gvozdyk was landing at a higher clip than Chilemba in the third round, and he had Chilemba covering up in a defensive shell with his back against the ropes while Gvozdyk unleashed several combinations on him.
Chilemba had a strong fifth round and was able to land some short uppercuts on the inside, but Gvozdyk took back over in the sixth round and looked like he was wearing his opponent down.
Gvozdyk outworked Chilemba in the seventh round and Roy Jones Jr. threatened to stop the fight if he didn’t pick up the action in the eighth round. Chilemba was able to catch Gvozdyk by surprise in the opening thirty seconds of the eighth round, but Gvozdyk took back over in the final minute and had Chilemba’s nose bleeding badly.
Chilemba told his trainer, Roy Jones Jr., before the start of the ninth round that he was done and couldn’t fight anymore, and Jones told the referee the fight was over. Chilemba believed his right hand was broken.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk wins by TKO at the end of the eighth round.
The final fight on the undercard was between Maurice Hooker (21-0-2) and Darleys Perez (33-2-1) in the junior welterweight division.
Hooker was a lot taller than Perez and used it to his advantage by keeping a jab in the face of Perez in the opening round. However, Perez looked comfortable with Hooker’s power in the second round and was able to catch Hooker by surprise with some well timed hooks, and he had him hurt in the opening minute of the third round with a clean looping right hook.
Perez appeared to score a knockdown in the fourth round when he tagged Hooker with a right cross and sent him tumbling backwards and to the mat, but the referee ruled it a slip.
Hooker had a good fifth round with an active jab, but Perez again caught Hooker with looping right hooks in the sixth round.
Perez remained the aggressor in the seventh round and took some of Hooker’s best punches but kept on moving forward. Perez remained the aggressor in the eighth round and had Hooker circling away from his opponent and moving backwards.
The final two rounds played out like the earlier rounds, with Perez pressing forward and landing an occasional right hook or right cross while Hooker would land a number of jabs while moving backwards.
A lot of rounds could have been scored either way, but the judges appeared to agree by scoring the fight 97-93 Perez, 97-93 Hooker, 95-95 making the bout a draw.
HBO PPV Preview: Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, Hooker vs. Perez, Chilemba vs. Gvozdyk, Stevens vs. De La Rosa
HBO PPV Preview: Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, Hooker vs. Perez, Chilemba vs. Gvozdyk, Stevens vs. De La Rosa
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Roc Nation Sports and Main Events Promotions will team up to deliver one of the best fights that could be made in boxing on HBO Pay Per View. The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host site for the WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight Title fight between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.
Ten fights total are featured on this card, including the highly anticipated debut of two time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields.
HBO appears to be ready to televise four fights on the pay per view, and the following is a preview of all four bouts.
Curtis Stevens (28-5) vs. James De La Rosa (23-4); Middleweights
This bout is on the pay per view card despite the fact it’s highly unlikely that either participant will be fighting for a world title in the near future.
Curtis Stevens is a fan favorite and shocked many in his last bout when he beat undefeated prospect Patrick Teixeira.
He’ll be giving up ½ inch in reach and about three inches in height to De La Rosa. However, he has faced significantly better competition and has a deep amateur background than his opponent.
De La Rosa lost his last two fights and only has thirteen knockout victories. Stevens has twenty one knockout victories and is known for delivering exciting bouts.
Both boxers only fought one time in 2016, zero times in 2015, and three times in 2014.
Stevens has beaten the likes of Patrick Teixeira, Tureano Johnson, Patrick Majewski, Saul Roman, Derrick Findley, and Elvin Ayala. He has lost to the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Andre Dirrell and Jesse Brinkley. De La Rosa has defeated the likes of Alfredo Angulo but has lost to the likes of Jason Quigley, Hugo Centeno Jr., Marcus Willis, and Allen Conyers.
Stevens has been inconsistent throughout his career, but this is a bout that he should win in a fan pleasing fashion.
Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2) vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0); Light Heavyweights
Not many boxers can claim to have lasted twelve rounds with Sergey Kovalev, and Isaac Chilemba is one of them.
However, he’s facing a highly decorated Ukranian amateur that is managed by Egis Klimas, who has an impressive stable of boxers under his control, and many consider Gvozdyk to be future world champion material.
Gvozdyk has nine stoppage victories in only eleven professional bouts and is a 2012 Summer Olympics Bronze medalist. Chilemba has ten stoppage victories in thirty professional bouts, so Gvozdyk has a clear edge in power. Chilemba also does not have the amateur experience of Gvozdyk.
Gvozdyk will be the same height as Chilemba but will also have a two and a half inch reach advantage. They are of the same age. Gvozdyk has also been considerably more active than Chilemba. He fought three times in 2016 and four times in 2015, while Chilemba only fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.
Gvozdyk has already defeated the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi and Tommy Karpency before he has faced his twelfth opponent. Chilemba has defeated the likes of Doudou Ngumbu, Maksim Vlasov, Edison Miranda, Denis Grachev, and Vasily Lepikhin; but he has also lost to the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, Tony Bellew, and Willbeforce Shihepo.
Chilemba is a tough opponent with a strong chin, but he’s not on the same level of technique as Gvozdyk and he doesn’t have the power to score an upset knockout.
This should be a good showcase fight for Gvozdyk to show off his skills.
Maurice Hooker (21-0-2) vs. Darleys Perez (33-2-1); Junior Welterweights
Maurice Hooker is one of the most intriguing prospects on the undercard, as his reach and height has many people comparing him to Paul Williams.
Hooker will have a four inch height advantage as well as an amazing ten inch reach advantage over Perez. He’s also six years younger than Perez.
Hooker is known for being a hard puncher and has stopped sixteen of his opponents. Perez has twenty one stoppage victories, but his best days appear to be behind him.
Hooker fought three times in 2015 and twice in 2016 while Perez fought one time in 2016 and three times in 2015.
Perez has the edge in amateur experience. He represented Columbia in the 2008 Summer Olympics while Hooker’s biggest claim to fame in the amateurs was when he won the Dallas Regional Golden Gloves Championship.
This bout is a big step up in competition for Hooker. He has defeated the likes of Ty Barnett, Wilfrido Buelvas, and Eduardo Galindo. Perez has beaten the likes of Argenis Lopez, Jonathan Maicelo, and Jaider Parra. His losses have come to Anthony Crolla and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Perez was the former WBA Lightweight champion, but he’ll be competing at a higher weight class on Saturday and will be facing a good opponent with a ridiculous reach advantage.
The ten inch reach advantage will be too much for Perez to overcome.
Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1) vs. Andre Ward (30-0); WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight Title
The main event of the night is one of the best fights that could be made in boxing today and the winner will likely have a claim to the top pound for pound spot on the mythical list.
Kovalev, at the age of 33, and Ward, at the age of 32, are nearing the end of their physical primes but neither have shown signs of slowing down inside the ring.
They both are six foot tall, but Kovalev will have a slight one and a half inch reach advantage when they are both inside the ring.
Ward has the deeper amateur background of the two as he won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2004. Kovalev also had success as an amateur and was a former Russian Champion as an amateur, but he never competed in the Olympics and was engaged intense competition with two other Russian amateur standouts, Matt Korobov and Artur Beterbiev.
Kovalev has the edge in power. He has stopped twenty six of his opponents while Ward has only stopped fifteen. However, Ward is a gifted defensive boxer and is excellent with his counters, and Kovalev often leaves himself open for counters after he throws one of his heavy combinations.
Kovalev has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Nadjib Mohammedi, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Nathan Cleverly, Ismayl Sillah, Cedric Agnew, and Gabriel Campillo. He has fought twice in 2015 and once in 2016.
Ward has fought twice in 2016 and once in 2015. He has defeated the likes of Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Paul Smith, Edwin Rodriguez, Chad Dawson, Carlo Froch, Artur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler, and Edison Miranda.
This is a tough fight for many to pick, mainly because Ward has never faced a power puncher like Kovalev and Kovalev has never faced a slick boxer like Ward.
However, Ward’s jab is his best weapon and he’ll likely use it often to keep Kovalev at bay. History has shown that a slick boxer will usually beat a power puncher if everything else is reason, and Saturday should be no different.