Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker looking to make like Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor

Maurice Hooker/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker is another in a long line of fighters hopeful of becoming recognizable figures in the boxing world. Hooker will have a tremendous chance to do that Saturday when he takes on former interim lightweight champion Darleys Perez in the junior welterweight semi-main event Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

They will tangle underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward (on HBO pay-per-view).

Hooker, of Dallas, is 21-0-2 with 16 knockouts. He has a solid knockout ratio of 70 percent. It sounds like his idol is Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor (39-1, 35 KOs), the late Hall of Fame junior welterweight champion whose knockout ratio was an amazing 88 percent.

“Aaron Pryor is one of the best,” Hooker said. “He brought a lot of knockouts. He was a great fighter whom a lot of people dodged. Like him, I’m coming into this fight with people dodging me. They are afraid because they don’t know what I can do. This fight means a lot … an opportunity to show them who I am. I am going to bring the knockout just like ‘The Hawk’ would.”

Hooker actually put his intentions regarding Perez into more, well, colorful words.

“My prediction for Saturday is a knockout,” he said. “I love knockouts. I am always going for the knockout. With every punch that I throw, even the jab, I am going to try to take Darleys Perez’s head off.”

Hooker, 27, is ranked as high as No. 9 in the world by one organization.

Perez, 33, is from Colombia. He is 33-2-1 with 21 knockouts.

 

 

 

 

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Claressa Shields ultra-confident about her boxing skills ahead of pro debut

Cleraa Shields (r.) beat Dutch fighter Nouchka Fontijn by unanimous decision.

Claressa Shields, right, celebrates her gold-medal victory over Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in Rio De Janeiro/Photo by  Alex Livesey, Getty Images

 

Claressa Shields does not lack confidence, nor should she. Shields won back-to-back gold medals for Team USA in the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games. Now she’s on the brink of turning pro.

Shields on Saturday will take on Franchon Crews in a super middleweight bout underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

Shields worked out for reporters Monday in Las Vegas. She touched on many subjects, including her decision to take her talents to the professional ranks rather than go for a third gold medal.

“When deciding to go pro, I thought about my legacy,” said Shields, 21. “I didn’t want to disappear for four years and win another gold medal, but have people not know my name or what I look like or how I box.”

Shields also discussed her talents, and her words demonstrated how self-assured she is about them.

“Expect to see a really good fight, a very skilled fight from me, this Saturday,” said Shields, of Flint, Mich. “The world is going to see a level of boxing that no woman boxer has ever shown before. I’m a smart fighter. I’m an entertaining fighter. I throw everything well and have great combinations.”

Crews, of Baltimore, will be making her debut as well.

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Danny Garcia, Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman ready to unify welterweight division

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Danny Garcia/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Now that Danny Garcia has dispatched Samuel Vargas – not that there was any real chance he wouldn’t – his welterweight title-unification bout with Keith “One Time” Thurman can take place March 4 as planned. (A site is still to be determined).

The trash-talk has already started. Thurman was part of the Spike broadcast team for Garcia’s seventh-round stoppage of Vargas this past Saturday at Liacouras Center in Garcia’s native Philadelphia. Afterward, the two spoke inside the ring and had a few choice words for one another.

“I just had to tell Keith that he’s next,” Garcia said. “I’m going to beat him down. There’s not much more to say. Keith is going to get what he asked for and now he’s going to face a big dog.”

Said Thurman: “You have two big punchers meeting on March 4. I don’t see how the fight can go 12 rounds. I see myself as the best competition that Danny has ever faced.”

Garcia, 28, is 33-0 with 19 knockouts. Thurman, 27, is from Clearwater, Fla. He is 27-0 with 22 knockouts.

This should be a terrific fight.

 

 

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Danny Garcia says he’ll show Keith Thurman what he has in store for him

 

Danny Garcia, left, throws a punch at Robert Guerrero during their WBC championship welterweight bout, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Danny Garcia, left, lands a short left hook to the jaw of Robert Guerrero in January at Staples Center. Garcia won a vacant welterweight title with a unanimous decision/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill

 

Welterweight world champion Danny Garcia on Saturday will take on Samuel Vargas (25-2-1, 13 KOs) of Colombia in a non-title fight at Liacouras Center in Garcia’s native Philadelphia (on Spike).

Assuming Garcia wins – and he will – he will next take on Keith “One Time” Thurman in a highly anticipated title-unification bout March 4 at a site still to be determined.

The best thing about Saturday’s bout is that Thurman will be part of the broadcast team. Garcia was asked about that Wednesday.

“He (Thurman) will just get an up close and personal look at what will happen to him in March,” Garcia said. “I hope he’s paying attention.”

Never one to be left out of trash talk, Angel Garcia – Danny’s father and trainer – echoed that sentiment.

“Thurman may be on the outside looking in on Saturday, but he’s going to see what he has in store for him in March,” he said.

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Jessie Vargas believes a victory over Manny Pacquiao will make him a star

Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas works out with trainer Dewey Cooper for his fight Saturday against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. (Photo by Gene Blevins)

Jessie Vargas works with trainer Dewey Cooper/Photo by Gene Blevins

 

Jessie Vargas is a welterweight world champion, but he’s not exactly a household name even though he’s from Las Vegas, the fight capital of the world. If he beats Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, that will change.

“It would definitely put me on the worldwide stage, make me that boxing star that I have been looking forward to being,” Vargas said. “I have been waiting for this for a long time and I’m glad it’s here and I am going to take advantage of it.

“The only fighters to beat Manny Pacquiao have become legends themselves. So I plan to become one of the few to beat Manny Pacquiao and also become one of the legends.”

Bob Arum, whose Top Rank Inc. is producing the ($59.95) pay-per-view feed for the card, promotes both fighters. He agrees Vargas could alter how he is viewed by the boxing world.

“He becomes not just a champion, but a superstar,” Arum said. “I will deny to him that I said that because I will have to negotiate his next fight (laughing). He would be a superstar, there is no question about that, if he were to beat Manny Pacquiao. He has a hell of a shot to do that.”

Pacqujiao, 37, is 58-6-2 with 38 knockouts. Vargas, 27, is 27-1 with 10 knockouts.

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Taras Shelestyuk says he has learned a lot from ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley

Taras Shelestyuk, left, and Jaime Herrera square off after Thursday’s weigh-in/Photo by Carlos Baeza, Thompson Boxing

 

“Sugar” Shane Mosley may be 45, but the future Hall of Famer showed in May he’s still a decent fighter when he went the distance with David Avanesyan before losing a unanimous decision. It’s therefore not surprising to hear Mosley has been sparring with welterweight contender Taras Shelestyuk ahead of Shelestyuk’s fight Friday night against Jaime Herrera at Omega Products International in Corona (on Showtime).

Mosley likes what he sees from Shelestyuk (14-0, 9 KOs), who recently moved to Los Angeles from his native Ukraine.

“He’s on that championship path, that level,” Mosley said.

Shelestyuk, who won a bronze medal for Ukraine in the 2012 London Games, is soaking up all Mosley has to offer.

“Sparring with Shane Mosley has been huge for me,” Shelestyuk said. “He’s such a great fighter. When I was younger, I’d watch his fights. Now we spar. He’s older but still very good. He knows all the tricks and gives me a lot of advice that helps me in and out of the ring. Everything he’s said to me, I’ve tried to apply.”

Herrera, of Franklin Park, Ill., is 15-3-1 with eight knockouts.

 

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Sylvester Stallone takes in Manny Pacquiao sparring session at Wild Card

Manny Pacquiao poses with Sylvester Stallone on Saturday at Wild Card gym in Hollywood/Photo courtesy of Miguel Salazar

 

Manny Pacquiao received a visit from a rather famous fictional fighter on Saturday at Wild Card gym in Hollywood. It was none other than Sylvester Stallone of “Rocky” fame.

The two posed for pictures after Pacquiao finished sparring in preparation for his challenge to welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (on Top Rank pay-per-view).

Pacquaio (58-6-2, 38 KOs) is hopeful he and Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) can put on a heck of a show.

“My first concern is for the fans; that the people who are going to watch the fight will be happy and satisfied,” Pacquiao said. “I want this to be a fight for fans to remember.”

 

 

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Andre Ward says focus in training always the same, regardless of opponent

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

If you have followed the career of Andre Ward, it’s easy to tell how well prepared he has been for all of his fights. That, he says, is because even though the fighters are different, his level of concentrations is the same.

“Regardless of who I’m fighting — (Sullivan) Barrera, (Alexander) Brand, (Sergey) Kovalev, whoever — there’s always different game plans and nuances when it comes to preparation and training,” said Ward, who Nov. 19 will challenge Kovalev for his light heavyweight belts at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). “The reality of it is, every fight is a must-win for me. I prepare for each fight as if I’m facing the most difficult opponent of my career. That’s always been my approach, and I think you’re playing with fire if you don’t adopt that mentality in this sport.

“I know this is a big fight, the biggest of my career. But my mindset and my focus have been consistent no matter the opponent, and that’s an invaluable asset.”

Ward, 32, is from Oakland. He’s 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev, 33, is from Russia. He’s 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts.

 

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John Molina Jr. of Covina to challenge Terence Crawford for titles on Dec. 10

John Molina Jr.

John Molina Jr./Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

John Molina Jr. of Covina will get his second chance to win a major world title when he challenges Terence Crawford for his two junior welterweight belts Dec. 10 at CenturyLink Center in Crawford’s native Omaha, Neb. (on HBO).

Molina (29-6, 23 KOs), a gradaute of Charter Oak High, challenged Antonio DeMarco of Tijuana for his lightweight title in September 2012, but was stopped in the first round at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) is coming off a wide decision over Viktor Postol in a title-unification bout in July at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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Jessie Vargas knows a victory over Manny Pacquiao will change his career

Jessie Vargas/Photo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.

 

Jessie Vargas knows one thing – a victory over Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 5 would change his career and his life. He wants that.

“It would definitely put me on the worldwide stage, make me that boxing star that I have been looking forward to being,” said Vargas, who will defend his welterweight title against Pacquiao at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. “I have been waiting for this for a long time and I’m glad it’s here and I am going to take advantage of it. The only fighters to beat Manny Pacquiao have become legends themselves. So I plan to become one of the few to beat Manny Pacquiao and also become one of the legends.”

Vargas, 27, is 27-1 with 10 knockouts. Pacquiao, 37, is 58-6-2 with 38 knockouts.

The card will be available on Top Rank pay-per-view for $59.95.

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