Jose Ramirez unified two of the four major titles in boxing’s super lightweight division on Saturday by stopping fellow titleholder Maurice Hooker in the sixth round of their fight.
Hooker (26-1-3, 17 KOs) was handed the first loss of his career while fighting in front of a hometown crowd in Arlington, Texas.
Ramirez Validates Championship Status
For Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs), the emphatic victory validated that he belongs among boxing’s elite, something that can be difficult for even world champions to be assured of given the alphabet soup of titles available for fighters today.
“This just lets me know that I am on the right track to becoming a better fighter, a better professional,” Ramirez said after the fight. “I am ready for anyone now.”
The stoppage prevented any potential scoring controversies that could have developed from an incident in the first round.
During an action-packed opening three minutes, Hooker fell to the floor after Ramirez stepped on his foot. However, referee Mark Nelson incorrectly ruled the action a knockdown, which would have cost Hooker a point on the judge’s cards.
After the fight, however, Hooker said that the incident didn’t have any impact on the outcome.
“The first-round knockdown didn’t affect me,” said Hooker. “I just knew I had to come back and use my jab. When he had me on the ropes, he didn’t really catch me with anything. I was blocking everything.”
Clash of Styles Ends in an Instant
After the first round, the remained of the fight proved difficult to score, as both men tried to play to their strengths in a fight that experts and bookmakers saw as close to a tossup. Each had their moments, with Hooker trying to stay on the outside and use his length while Ramirez worked his way in close to Hooker to land powerful shots. When the fight was stopped, one judge had the fight dead even, while Ramirez had the advantage on the other two cards.
“I went back to my fundamentals, working on my jab, closing the distance, slowly, slowly without him knowing I was in range to land the combinations,” Ramirez explained after the fight. “I was closing the distance and once I felt like I was in range, I threw that 1-2 jab that works perfectly for me.”
In the decisive sixth round, Ramirez landed a big left hook that forced Hooker back into the ropes. Ramirez then followed up aggressively, landing a series of unanswered punches that appeared to leave Hooker supported only by the ropes. Sensing that Hooker was out on his feet, Nelson jumped in to call an end to the fight.
Ramirez now owns two of the four major titles in the super lightweight division, and while he doesn’t have any concrete plans for his next opponent, the obvious choice would be the winner of the upcoming fight between WBA champion Regis Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) and Josh Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs). While Prograis and Taylor haven’t set a date yet, the winner of that bout would have the other two major titles in the division, providing the opportunity for a true unification fight that would produce an undisputed super lightweight champion.
“I signed up to fight against the best fighters, you know,” Ramirez said of a potential clash with Prograis or Taylor. “I want the other titles, that’s my main goal.”