Exclusive: Maurice Hooker Wants To Knock Out Mikkel LesPierre, Eyes Bigger Opportunities In The Future

Even though WBO junior welterweight titleholder Maurice Hooker had been a world champion for nine months, he never considered himself a champion until he made a successful first title defense, which he did last November against Alex Saucedo.

Now, life is going great for Hooker and is eager to reach even newer heights in his career.

“It feels good. It feels good to be a champion and now I have more goals,” Hooker told Fightful in an exclusive interview.

But before he can even think about major fights against the top names at 140 pounds or even get a potential homecoming title defense in Texas this summer, Hooker must take care of unbeaten contender Mikkel LesPierre. The two are set to do battle on a DAZN card from Verona, New York on March 9 in Hooker's second world title defense.

While little is known about LesPierre by most casual boxing fans and Hooker is coming into the fight as a major favorite, Hooker said he is not overlooking his next opponent and understands that anybody on any given night can beat anybody as history has shown time and time again.

“He’s undefeated and he’s hungry for the title so I know he’s coming to fight. I really don’t think I need to be worried. I just got to do what I got to do with whatever he brings to me. I really don’t care much about what other people think. Me and my team are taking this fight very seriously like we did in the fight against Alex Saucedo. We won’t overlook this guy and we’re ready to put on a show. I’m ready and I know he’s ready and we’ve prepared for whatever he brings,” Hooker said.

But still, one has to wonder if there are bigger fights down the road for the undefeated world champion past his next title defense? If Hooker had it his way, he would have a title defense in front of his hometown fans in Dallas, Texas in June.

“The plan is to defend this Saturday and to have a world title defense in June. That’s the plan, but if I offered more money for any other fight, why not? But we got plans to fight in Dallas in June,” Hooker said.

Of course, the plan is contingent on how Hooker performs on March 9 and how quickly he can defeat LesPierre. Hooker said he wants to bring the pressure early on LesPierre and try to knock him out and keep himself fresh for June.

When it comes to the aforementioned big fights in the future, Hooker has made it no secret that he wants a shot to unify with WBC champion Jose Ramirez. The two even had a stare-down after Hooker's win over Saucedo last year on ESPN in which Hooker invited Ramirez to come and fight on DAZN, but Hooker said he would "fight all of the big names," not just Ramirez.

Unfortunately, most of those big names (sans Ramirez) are currently busy competing in the World Boxing Super Series (although a certain Belarusian IBF titleholder may or may not be unceremoniously free from the tournament soon). There's also former lightweight world champion Jorge Linares, who figured to be in the WBO title conversation, but a shocking first-round loss to Pablo Cesar Cano back in January dashed those 140-pound title aspirations.

So with the division mostly locked up for the time being, Hooker understands that 2020 could be his breakthrough year when it comes to unifying titles and making himself the consensus No. 1 junior welterweight in the world.

“Yeah in 2020, I would like to fight some of the guys who hold titles and get my name out there even more. I think 2020 should be my year. I’m going to close out 2019 in style and 2020 I’m going to have a big year,” Hooker said.

Hooker's road to unification would only get off to a good start with a dazzling performance against someone many expect the WBO champion to finish off easily. Hooker knows that and he relishes the challenge and the opportunity to wow the Verona crowd and further stake his claim as the division's top dog.

“I’m going for the knockout. I’m going to hunt him down and knock him out,” Hooker said.

The WBO junior welterweight title fight between Hooker and LesPierre will take place at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino on March 9 and it will be streamed on DAZN in the United States. The full interview with Hooker can be seen in the video at the top of the page.

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