Kelsey McCarson for Bookies.com

By Kelsey McCarson | | 2 mins

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Should You Back Maurice Hooker Against Jose Ramirez?

Should You Back Maurice Hooker Against Jose Ramirez?
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It’s hard not to become emotionally invested in a fighter like WBO junior welterweight titleholder Maurice Hooker. After all, the 29-year-old from Dallas has been a boxing bettor’s dream in recent history. Hooker scored two huge upset wins in 2018, and those amazing performances have led him to this supremely important 140-pound title unification bout against WBC champ Jose Ramirez.

It’s easy to remember the elation one might have felt when Hooker did the unthinkable as a +400 dog against Terry Flanagan last year and again five months later at around +150 against Alex Saucedo. Boxing, after all, is a sport built around storylines and narratives. Everyone loves to rally around the underdog after a big win, and scoring two of them in a row earns even more accolades from the masses.

Don’t Bet on Maurice Hooker Beating the Bookies

But beating Flanagan and Saucedo aren’t really good enough reasons by themselves to back Hooker to do the same at +110 per 888Sport against the undefeated Ramirez. That fighter, a 26-year-old from Avenal, California, appears to be a much better fighter than those guys, and his aggressive but technically precise style is sure to give Hooker fits come fight night.

Ramirez was a member of the 2012 US Olympic team, the hallmark event in an amateur fighter’s life that usually serves as a good indicator of how talented a fighter might be. While that year’s team was a disappointment overall in that none of the men came back with a medal, Ramirez was still one of the most highly coveted fighters entering the professional ranks.

He ultimately signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotions, something that also usually indicates what the general boxing industry thinks a young fighter might turn out to be.

That’s because Top Rank has traditionally been excellent at spotting which fighters to promote and which to avoid. They’re also historically fantastic at moving fighters along at the proper pace and putting them in the right fights against the right kinds of opponents at the optimal times.

Hooker's Past Opponents

While Hooker’s shocking wins over UK star Flanagan in Machester by split-decision in June 2018, and Alex Saucedo by seventh-round knockout in Oklahoma City, were indeed fantastic examples of how an unheralded fighter can sometimes go into enemy territory to pull off the unthinkable, it certainly also helped Hooker in those ventures that he was facing what in retrospect were incredibly flawed fighters.

Flanagan lost his very next fight against Regis Prograis and wasn’t really all that competitive. Saucedo hasn’t yet returned from losing to Hooker but one could see in the Hooker loss that all the punches he had been taking in previous bouts against lesser fighters would have inevitably led to his downfall anyway, if not against Hooker than against someone else down the line.

In short, it appears on paper the fighters are on two different levels and probably have been for some time now. Let’s put it this way. Circa 2011, Hooker was one of the best amateur boxers in the Dallas area. Ramirez, on the other hand, was one of the best in the whole world.

Things probably aren’t much different today. Back Ramirez at -137 to defeat Hooker on Saturday night in Texas.

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