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Jose Ramirez and Maurice Hooker ready for Texas shootout

Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
Jose Ramirez and Maurice Hooker meet in super-lightweight unification clash, writes Elliot Worsell

TWO world super-lightweight titles will be unified this Saturday (July 27) in Arlington, Texas, when unbeaten champions Jose Carlos Ramirez and Maurice Hooker meet at the College Park Center.

Ramirez, the WBC super-lightweight champion, won his vacant title with a 12-round decision over Amir Imam last March and has since defended it in distance fights against Antonio Orozco and Jose Zepeda.

WBC super-lightweight champion Jose Ramirez Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Hooker, meanwhile, is the owner of the WBO super-lightweight title, a belt he won when travelling to Britain last June and outscoring Manchester’s Terry Flanagan over 12 rounds. That went down as a split-decision, though that’s being kind to Flanagan. Regardless, Hooker has proven his quality since with successful defences against Alex Saucedo, whom he stopped in seven rounds, and Mikkel LesPierre, outpointed over 12.

Although both are world champions, Ramirez and Hooker are still very much finding their feet in their respective roles. They have conquered a string of fringe contenders, and shown flashes of class and potential dominance, yet neither feel like established champions, nor can they claim to be the number one at the weight. This gives Saturday’s fight, though a unification, more of a semi-final feel, particularly when Regis Prograis, the WBA champion, and Josh Taylor, the IBF champion, are soon to meet.

The one tough test Ramirez has faced so far came against Zepeda in his last title defence. That night in February, Ramirez, 24-0 (20), failed to get going early, found himself outboxed at times, yet eventually rallied late and capitalised on the fact Zepeda had never gone the 12-round distance before. He finished strongly to take a majority-decision win, but the performance highlighted as many of his vulnerabilities as plus points. Zepeda rued all those inside distance wins of his, aware he lost a fight he could have won.

Unlike Zepeda, both Ramirez and Hooker are accustomed to going 12 rounds, even if they go about getting there in different ways. Hooker, the pure, technical boxer, looks to get behind his jab and use it to poke, prod and dissect an opponent. He likes to break them down gradually, doing it cleanly and with style. Ramirez, on the other hand, is less concerned about the jab and more inclined to get busy, throwing combinations until he makes an impression on his foe.

WBO champion Maurice Hooker Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

This style blend should make for an interesting fight on Saturday night, just as it should almost guarantee a distance fight. Ramirez, 26, will look to get the job done with work-rate and combinations in close, whereas Hooker, 29, will attempt to create distance and walk the WBC champion into traps. On recent form, it’s the latter approach, the approach dictated by the Hooker jab, one favours to secure two belts.

Supporting Ramirez vs. Hooker is an IBF super-featherweight title fight between Tevin Farmer, the champion, and Frenchman Guillaume Frenois.

Farmer, 29-4-1 (6), the ever-improving, well-school Philadelphian, easily outpointed Ireland’s Jono Carroll in his last defence in March and should be able to do something similar against Frenois, 46-1-1 (12), a former European champion held to a controversial draw by Carroll last December.

Frenois, 35, is a solid boxer with good skills, and certainly deserved the nod over Carroll, but has been dawdling in France too long and has probably made his move into title contention a little too late.

Also making an appearance in Arlington will be Russian Murat Gassiev, 26-1 (19), a former IBF and WBA cruiserweight champion now looking to make waves as a heavyweight. His heavyweight bow arrives against Philly’s Joey Dawejko, 19-7-4 (11), who comes off a run of three straight decision losses.

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