Maurice Hooker vs. Alex Saucedo: Who Wants It

 Most Southwest residents are hard pressed to recall a time when there wasn't a sporting rivalry between the states of Texas and Oklahoma. Specifically, the "Red River Rivalry", consisting of the Texas Longhorn and Oklahoma Sooner college football programs, has transpired 113 times, almost annually.  The level of intensity doesn't wane in other Texas vs. Oklahoma athletic endeavors either, even if they're not as frequent or pronounced.  Which brings us to Friday, November 16th, when WBO super lightweight champion, Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker defends his title against Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo. “Top Rank Boxing on ESPN” will present what promises to be an action-packed event live from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK. (11pm CST).

 

The Dallas, TX boxing landscape has never been ripe with more talent; U.S. Olympians, near-miss Olympians, former world champions, current world champions and a laundry list of contenders.  Maurice Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KO’s) was a well-known entity in these circles yet simultaneously slept on by most, regarding etching his name among the pugilistic greats of the city. Highly respected for his willingness to spar the best guys in various gyms, even at a weight disadvantage, Hooker’s services weren’t clamored much beyond that. After a 97-7 amateur record, “Mighty Mo” turned pro with little to no fanfare; no true management, no promotion, no steady trainer, no direction, nada. In his debut, Hooker was led to slaughter vs. a 7-1, 5 KO’s foe. Four rounds later, Maurice fought well enough to deserve a draw in the other man’s hometown, a glimpse he possessed more than most ever gave him credit for.  

 

Refusing to take no for an answer or accept defeat, Hooker continued to do what he had to do; fight on the road when warranted and sneaking in on local club shows here and there. As his undefeated record blossomed, so did the interest. Before long, he acquired reputable management which paid the way onto cards to get him fights. More importantly, they made sure he sampled the best sparring imaginable in the process; Shawn Porter, Terence Crawford, Miguel Cotto, not to mention the countless rounds of ring time previously spent with Errol Spence and Charles Hatley, back home. As Maurice put it, “Nobody knows about me, but if you go to gyms and ask about me, they’ll tell you, I’m a fighter!” Persistence and self-belief finally paid off in June of this year, when Hooker defeated Terry Flanagan for the vacant WBO super lightweight title, virtually in Flanagan’s back yard.    

 

By Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo’s (28-0, 18 KO’s) estimate, he fought 165 amateur bouts total, 20 in Mexico, with roughly 10 losses. Oklahoma City, OK. became his home base and over time Saucedo became so deeply entrenched in his state’s culture, the OU Sooners took slight precedence over their rival Oklahoma State Cowboys, based on familial affiliation. That said, OSU has “El Cholo’s” unwavering support against any other team. Alex is proud and appreciative of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball squad as well, for not only bringing the NBA to his city, but providing a venue for him to bring big, televised fights back to OKC, something he’s dreamed of since childhood.  

 

Saucedo also frequented Dallas boxing gyms from time to time, for more diverse, big city sparring. Along the way, he had a handful of rounds with Errol Spence and sparred Hooker.  Saucedo lends no credence to this one way or the other, since he was 18 and Hooker was 23, at the time. But he also speaks openly of “seeing Hooker quit in the gym, and once a quitter, always a quitter.” Mutually, Hooker placed no weight or significance on the snippet of sparring from 6 years ago either. Mo’ emphasized his edge in experience (despite having fewer pro fights), Saucedo’s youth and uttered “He’s young, (I’ll) put him across my lap and spank his ass.”

 

Opinions are all over the road with this one; Fresh off a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Lenny Zapavigna, can Saucedo afford and pull off another? Can Hooker dictate where, when and how to fully unleash, as readily as he thinks he will? The one thing Pugilism Company will predict with certainty is another “2018 Fight of the Year” candidate.

 


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