Maurice Hooker Upsets Terry Flanagan, Wins Vacant WBO Junior Welterweight Title

It is never an easy thing for an American boxer to go to the United Kingdom to fight for a world title, but Maurice Hooker was able to do just that.

In the co-main event of Tyson Fury’s return to the ring at the Manchester Arena, Hooker narrowly defeated former lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan by split decision (115-113 Hooker, 117-111 Flanagan, 117-111 Hooker) to win the vacant WBO junior welterweight title. The win was Hooker’s first world title as a pro boxer.

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It was a tough, physical bout that saw Flanagan get a bad cut on his forehead and near his right eye midway through the fight. Hooker's overhand right was able to connect time and time again and Flanagan made the fight ugly with borderline illegal strikes. Flanagan was warned by the referee for repeatedly hitting Hooker with his left forearm, but Hooker was able to withstand Flanagan's combinations.

Flanagan managed to rock Hooker a number of times, including a left hand with less than a minute to go in the eighth round that momentarily gave the former world champion the advantage. Hooker was the better man in the championship rounds, landing left-right combinations to knock Flanagan off balance and win the fight on the judges' scorecards.

The fight came to be when both Flanagan and Terence Crawford vacated their WBO lightweight and junior welterweight titles, respectively, last year to move up in weight. With the WBO junior welterweight title vacant, Flanagan was shot right up to the top of the WBO rankings and given the title shot against Hooker, the WBO's No. 2 ranked junior welterweight.

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