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Alex Saucedo looking forward to Maurice Hooker clash for WBO title before the end of the year

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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Junior welterweight contender Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo 28-0 (18) saw his stock rise last month with his dramatic seventh round stoppage of Leonardo Zappavigna 37-4 (27) in front of his hometown crowd at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The 24-year-old battled through cuts and a torrid fourth round that saw him all but out on his feet as the Oklahoman and his Australian counterpart combined to deliver what is widely regarded as one of the fights of the year.

Promoter Bob Arum was so impressed with the WBO number one and WBA number two contender that he likened the performance to the late, great Arturo Gatti, who thrilled crowds with his blood-soaked wars during his 49-fight pro career.

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“I’m a warrior in there and I’m always going to try to get the win no matter how,” Saucedo told BoxingTalk.com this week. “That’s what I did in this fight, I had to be a warrior and that’s okay.”

The 30-year-old Zappavigna from Sydney, Australia poured on the pressure in the fourth round, backing up Saucedo and forcing him into an inside fight that saw both men trading bombs for the full three-minutes. The action had the crowd on their feet and was worth the price of admission alone.

“That fourth round was a little off for me and it got tough when he countered my lazy jab with a good right hand,” said Saucedo, who needed five stitches after the fight. “That was a rough round for me, but other than that, I felt like I had the first few rounds pretty well and got back to business after the fourth round.”

With the win Saucedo earned a shot at recently crowned WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker 24-0-3 (16) who claimed the title with a split decision win over Terry Flanagan in Manchester, England last month.

It is a fight that Saucedo would love to bring back to his hometown.

“I definitely want to come back and fight here,” he said. “I understand Maurice Hooker doesn’t want to come here, but I’ll fight him wherever, I don’t care. I’ll fight him in his backyard. I’m definitely wanting to give my fans of Oklahoma City another great show for the world title, but we’ll see what happens.”

While no date has been set yet for the Hooker fight Saucedo will begin light workouts next week while waiting to recover from the cuts sustained in the Zappavigna clash. If everything goes to plan, Saucedo will get his first world title shot before the end of the year.

“He’s a great fighter and I think it’ll probably be a great fight,” he said. “I think it’ll be a totally different fight than Lenny Z, but I’m always going to be the guy who comes forward and puts the pressure on.

While the 28-year-old Hooker is undefeated in his 27 pro bouts, he has had a few close calls. Most recently Darleys Perez 33-4-2 (21) held Hooker to a split draw in their 10-round bout in November 2016, while almost three years earlier Abel Ramos 20-3-2 (15) scored a split draw against the Dallas native.

“He’s had three draws with guys who fight that similar style [to me] and I’m looking forward to getting that title and bringing it back to OKC,” said Saucedo. “He’s tall and he’s got reach and power in both hands, but you’ve seen the draws he had.”

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