icon Updated at 03:36 PM EST, Thu Nov 15, 2018

Hooker: An Old Midget Hurt Saucedo; Being Tough Won't Be Enough

By Keith Idec

Maurice Hooker issued a warning for those impressed with how Alex Saucedo came back from serious trouble to knock out Lenny Zappavigna.

“First, he fought a midget,” Hooker told BoxingScene.com. “The midget hurt him, but couldn’t put him out. I’m a big guy. I’ve got power in both hands.”

Australia’s Zappavigna, who’s generously listed at 5-feet-7, hurt Saucedo badly during the fourth round of their June 30 fight in Oklahoma City. Those three minutes mostly amounted to target practice for Zappavigna, but the resilient Saucedo survived that onslaught and stopped a battered, bloodied Zappavigna during the seventh round.

“I thought Alex Saucedo was gonna knock him out in the first two rounds,” said Hooker, who stands 5-feet-11, one inch taller than Saucedo. “I thought it was just a stay-busy fight. I didn’t think he would have as much problems as he had. The guy was short, he was old. I thought Alex Saucedo would just go in there and beat that guy up.”

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As difficult as that fight was for Saucedo (28-0, 18 KOs), it earned the undefeated contender a shot at Hooker’s WBO junior welterweight title.

They’ll fight Friday night in a 12-round, 140-pound championship match ESPN will televise from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s hometown. Hooker-Saucedo will be a one-bout broadcast, scheduled to start at midnight ET/9 p.m. PT.

“He’s tough and he keeps coming,” Hooker said. “That’s it, you know? Like in his last fight, he was tough. But being tough ain’t gonna win you the fight. He’s not gonna beat me.”

Hooker and Saucedo sparred against each other many times eight years ago. At that time, they both were managed by Arnie Verbeek and trained out of the Maple Avenue Boxing Gym in Hooker’s native Dallas.

“We were both young,” Hooker said. “We were just fighting on the inside, going toe-to-toe on the inside. I can’t take much from that sparring because we were young. He’s grown. He’s a better fighter now and I’m a better fighter now. And it’s gonna be a lot different.”

The taller, longer Hooker expects to keep the aggressive Saucedo at a distance in the first defense of his title.

“I’m gonna go in there and fight my fight,” Hooker said. “He ain’t gonna fight his fight. I’m not gonna fight him in close. It’s gonna be a good fight. Anything he gonna try and do, it’s not gonna work. I’m gonna fight my style. It’s gonna be a good fight because he’s gonna keep coming. He’s gonna leave himself available for my shots.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.