Hooker Risks June Homecoming in LesPierre Title Defense

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By Jake Donovan

Of all the fighters who’ve aligned themselves with Eddie Hearn and DAZN in recent months, Maurice Hooker is one of the few who’s still been forced to fight on other platforms and in hostile territory.

The unbeaten super lightweight will make his DAZN debut this weekend and—with any luck—a long awaited homecoming soon thereafter, assuming all goes well this Saturday versus Mikkel LesPierre.

Steadfast plans aren’t yet in place, but Hooker and his promotional team, Roc Nation Sports have informed BoxingScene.com targeted timeframe of June for a title defense in Dallas. Of course, he still has to escape with his belt in tow and nary a scratch as he faces Brooklyn-based LesPierre at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in upstate New York.

“That’s the plan, as far as they told me,” Hooker (25-0-3, 17KOs) informed BoxingScene.com on Tuesday. “I got (LesPierre) in front of me and I ain’t about to overlook him. But as long as I do what I can do and we get this win, they say in June we’re heading to Dallas.”

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Hooker hasn’t fought at home since his last bout as a rising contender, outpointing previously unbeaten Courtney Jackson in Aug. ’17. The fight came as a placeholder while waiting out a title shot that wouldn’t come for another 10 months, having to travel abroad in outpointing unbeaten former lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan for a vacant 140-pound title last June in Manchester, England.

As if winning the title on the road wasn’t enough, Hooker was forced to march back right into his opponent’s backyard.

A lucrative purse bid offering from Top Rank brought Hooker’s mandatory title defense to the Oklahoma City hometown of its unbeaten contender Alex Saucedo. Their ESPN headliner last November saw both boxers hit the canvas, but with Hooker getting the far better of it in battering Saucedo into submission inside of seven rounds.

By that point, he and Roc Nation Sports had already entered an agreement with Hearn and DAZN. His first appearance under such deal comes this weekend against yet another unbeaten challenger in LesPierre (21-0-1, 10KOs) a modest-hitting southpaw from Brooklyn by way of Trinidad and Tobago.

The ultimate goal is undisputed championship status at 140, which would require more unbeaten competition given the other beltholders—Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchykz—all presently boast unblemished records.

Between now and then, however, could come something he hasn’t been able to appreciate for some time—the sound of a hometown crowd.

“We can’t wait as Mo continues his journey on Saturday night to prove he’s the best he welterweight in the world,” Roc Nation’s Dino Duva told BoxingScene.com. “He’s not looking past a tough undefeated LesPierre, but if he’s victorious- a Dallas homecoming is absolutely the target for next fight!”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox




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