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Terry Flanagan looking to steal the show against Maurice Hooker in WBO junior welterweight title fight

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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While the bulk of the world’s boxing media is focused on Tyson Fury’s long-awaited return to the ring in England this weekend, there’s a far more important fight taking place on the card that will have worldwide ramifications for the junior welterweight division.

Undefeated southpaw Terry Flanagan 33-0 (13) will get his chance to reignite his career at over a year on the sidelines when he takes on American Maurice Hooker 23-0-3 (16) for the WBO junior welterweight title left vacant by Terence Crawford’s recent move up in in weight.

The softy-spoken Mancunian, who made five successful defences of his WBO lightweight title before moving up in weight, knows how important it is to put on a show-stopping performance against Hooker.

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“If I lose, I won’t get a second chance like other fighters do because I don’t put myself out there,” the 28-year-old told The Ring.

“I can’t see people wanting to fight me if I have nothing to offer. Even this show, I’ve not had a mention. Nobody is interested in anything other than (Tyson) Fury’s return. But it is what it is; I like Tyson, Tyson’s a good guy and without him, I wouldn’t be fighting in front of 1000s of people.

“You know me, I’m a simple guy and I’m not one for the limelight. People say I should do more to get myself out there, but I’m the type of person who just likes to do my own thing. I like to do my talking in the ring. Hooker is due to arrive over here soon, and I’m sure he’ll have plenty to say.

“It’s all bullshit, though, and it all comes down to what you do in the ring. Rather than tell people how good I am, I’ll be showing them.”

The 28-year-old Hooker from Dallas, Texas has been talking a good game ahead of this fight, but upon closer examination, his record reveals a lot of forgettable names and boxers who have seen better days.

Flanagan is unfazed by Hooker’s boasts.

“He’s probably always acted like that,” Flanagan said. “You get a lot of Americans who think that’s the way they have to be. It’s not going to bother me, it’s just going to make people look forward to the fight.

“All the talk comes to nothing and we’ve seen it all before, people saying they’re going to do this and that, then they get in the ring and they do nothing.”

The American brings some daunting physical dimensions into the ring, but Flanagan says the extra five pounds he is carrying himself at junior welterweight has benefited him greatly too.

“Don’t get me wrong, he’s 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2, whatever, so he’s got real advantages. I’m used to fighting smaller men and he’s going to hit harder at 140 pounds. The thing is, I feel like I’m hitting harder at this weight and I’m even more physical. I’ll be able to stand and have a fight,” said Flanagan.

“At lightweight, I was killing myself and I was having to box a lot more. Now, I have more energy and more stamina and I’ll use that to my advantage.”

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