November 18, 2016
November 18, 2016
maurice hooker

Stacey Verbeek

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This article was originally published in the August 18 edition of Boxing News. To subscribe, click here.

WITH a reported reach of 80 inches, 27-year-old super-lightweight prospect Maurice Hooker is a physical anomaly. Unbeaten in 23 professional fights, the upcoming Texan recently hammered Ty Barnett in one round on the Andre Ward-Alexander Brand undercard. His manager, Arnie Verbeek, feels he is three fights away from a world title shot and with newly-formed promotional company Roc Nation Sports backing him, Hooker insists he is ready for some major exposure. He will fight former world lightweight champion Darleys Perez on the massive Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward show in Las Vegas this weekend.

How did it feel to be on another big show?

It was a great feeling.

Although you weren’t in the ring for long, how would you rate your performance?

I wasn’t that good, I feel I could have done better but I did good. I could have picked my shots more, instead of just throwing them. I wanted to land more shots, there were a couple of shots I missed, but I’ll just get to the gym and work on it. There’s always room to improve.

It was another first-round win – is that something you work on, to be a fast starter in fights?

Yes, in a fight I like to start fast and catch the guy before he warms up.

You’ve also been the 10 round distance – so you’ve shown you’ve also got the stamina.

Oh yes, I’m in shape. I can go 10, 12 rounds, but I like the knockout.

How far off a world title shot do you think you are? You’re highly ranked by several governing bodies.

I would say by the middle of next year, or the beginning, I should be ready for a big fight, a chance to get a world title.

You sparred with Terence Crawford during his preparation for Viktor Postol, and you’ve sparred with him before – how much did you learn from that?

I learned a lot. I learned about patience, how to use my right hand. He hit me a lot and after we sparred he’d tell me what I’m doing wrong, or if I’d seen anything I’d tell him what he’s doing wrong. So we’d just go from there. I learned about how he prepares for a fight and trains. It was a great learning experience to work with a guy on that level.

You’ve said that you handled yourself in those spars, so did you take confidence from seeing Crawford dominate Postol the way he did?

I think the sparring between me and him was way tougher than the fight. I think the fight was too easy for him. It gave me a lot of confidence – I did way better than Postol did. That right there let me know that I’m on my way to the top.

So is Postol a name you’d like to face in the near future?

I think I’d knock Postol out. I would love to fight him.

Which champion would you ideally like to go after? I know you’ve said it wouldn’t be Crawford at this stage, given the relationship that’s there.

That fight might come in the future, but not right now. I’d like a fight with Ricky Burns, I think I’d knock him out too, or the IBF champion [Eduard Troyanovsky]. There are other belts out there [besides Crawford’s], then I’ll fight Terence Crawford. I’ve watched Burns, I’d knock him out in the early rounds. I’m a fast starter, I’d use my jab to get him in position and I think he’d run into my right hand – that’d be the end of the show.

You’ve also sparred other big names like Miguel Cotto.

Yes I’ve sparred Cotto, Ruslan [Provodnikov], Ray Beltran, Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Antonio Orozco and Antonio Margarito. Miguel Cotto, he’s real patient, he really picks his shots. He doesn’t throw a shot unless he’s sure it’ll land, or he’s trying to set you up. Everyone else I did what I had to do; work my jab and take it to them.

You grew up in a rough part of Dallas, could you tell me a bit more about what that experience was like?

It was pretty rough. I got in a lot of fights. There was gangbanging, a lot of drug dealing where I grew up. Being in the middle of that, it’s pretty tough. You see a lot of stuff, I did a lot of stuff. My dad took me to the boxing gym to get beat up, I went there and beat the guys up and I fell in love with boxing. I was about 11 or 12 when that happened.

So there was a danger of you falling into the wrong crowd?

Yes, I think boxing saved my life. You can go and run or hit the bag and take your anger out that way.