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Hooker: I'd Fight Regis Prograis at 145, I Know I Can Beat Him!

Maurice Hooker still wants to fight fellow former junior welterweight world titlist Regis Prograis, but said he simply cannot do it at the 143-pound weight limit they had agreed to before their fight was postponed.

Hooker and Prograis were scheduled to meet in a much-anticipated twelve round non-title bout in the main event of a DAZN card on April 17 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, before the coronavirus pandemic caused the fight to be postponed indefinitely.

While Dino Duva and Eddie Hearn, Hooker’s co-promoters, and Prograis promoter Lou DiBella have been talking to DAZN about rescheduling the bout perhaps as soon as August, Hooker has made it clear that 143 pounds is a non-starter for him at this point.

“I don’t want to kill myself to make weight,” Hooker told BoxingScene.com on Thursday night. “The fight I had in December on the (Julio Cesar) Chavez Jr. card I struggled and couldn’t make 143. I don’t want to struggle no more making weight. I want to make weight comfortably and fight the next day. I don’t want to kill myself no more.”

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Hooker, who struggled to make the 140-pound limit for title defenses, lost his belt by sixth-round stoppage to Jose Ramirez last July in a unification fight in Arlington, Texas, just outside Hooker’s hometown of Dallas. When Hooker returned to action in December, he was scheduled to fight journeyman Uriel Perez at 143 pounds. However, Hooker missed weight. He was 144¼. The fight went on anyway and he stopped Perez in the first round.

Hooker thought he would be able to make it for the fight with Prograis in April but said he now realizes he cannot do it.

“I would love to fight him but I can’t make 143,” Hooker said. “I ain’t gonna lie to myself this time. I got to move up.”

So what weight would Hooker be willing to fight Prograis at?

“I’d do 145,” Hooker said. “I don’t want to struggle no more. I’m not afraid of him. I would love to fight him. I can beat him. I know I can beat him.”

The Prograis camp has said they still want to do the fight against Hooker but only at the originally agreed upon weight of 143 pounds. Duva said he is hopeful they can somehow come to an agreement for the fight to still go on but at a heavier weight.

“To be clear, contrary to what’s been planted and written in the media, Maurice Hooker has not pulled out of the Regis Prograis fight, and does not desire to. He always has and still does want this great fight,” Duva said.

“However, and it’s nobody’s fault, the long delays and uncertainty that developed from the Covid-19 situation have unfortunately caused crucial items like fight weight, date, etc. to (be worked out). Now that Matchroom and DAZN have given us a clear time frame for the fight, the main issue we have to try and work out is the weight issue. We've been discussing it with Team Prograis, Matchroom and DAZN in good faith to resolve this.”

Hooker, 30, who has fought his entire nine-year professional career as a junior welterweight, said that during the coronavirus lockdown he got as heavy as 168 pounds and that even though he has resumed training, the weight is not coming off like it usually does.

“I’ve been fighting at 140 my whole pro career. It’s taking a toll on my body,” Hooker said. “I’m getting older. I’ll be 31 this year. It’s time for a change for me. I don’t want to put my body through that, not eat, losing weight, be tired the night of the fight and just got to push through.

“Regis has talked about moving up and now he has a chance to move up and he don’t want to move up. He got a chance now to fight at 147 so why not do it?”
Hooker (27-1-3, 18 KOs) has been in Omaha, Nebraska, training with Brian McIntyre for the past few weeks and made the decision that he needed additional pounds to fight Prograis because he was already having trouble shedding weight.

“It’s not coming off fast like I want it to come off. I just don’t want to struggle for the last couple of pounds,” Hooker said. “I would have killed myself to make it (in April). Then this virus kicked in. I’ve been with my family, but I came back and been training three or four weeks but the weight’s not coming off like I want it to come off. I didn’t want to get to fight week and be too big, a couple of pounds overweight, and not eat and starve myself, run all day, then get to the fight and have nothing left for the fight. I want to be in the ring 100 percent ready and not worried about the weight.”

Hooker said that if Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs), 31, of New Orleans, who has been idle since dropping a majority decision to Josh Taylor in a title unification fight in the final of the World Boxing Super Series, sticks to his word and won’t come up a few pounds he will look for another fight.

“I hope we get something put together soon. I want to fight the best out there,” Hooker said. “I want to get my feet wet at 147 first, Regis or whoever, and then go after a champion.”

Duva said while their side wants the fight, he supports Hooker’s decision about the weight.

“My absolute priority as Maurice's promoter is his safety and well being,” Duva said. “‘Mighty Mo’ is one of the most exciting fighters in the world, and it also serves the fans, our partners and broadcaster for him to be right physically and mentally going into a fight. With great respect to Regis Prograis and our partners, Team Hooker sincerely hopes to work things out and have the Prograis fight happen.”

Asked if he would give up money in his deal in exchange for Prograis to give him additional weight, Hooker said no way.

“No, I got a family to feed,” he said. “I got eight kids.”

Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by PBR Streetgang on 06-14-2020

I really wanted to see the fight but it was already at a catch-weight. At 145, it's a welterweight fight and there's little appeal in that. Prograis is still a 140lber and Hooker isn't. I'd rather see Regis fight another…

Comment by MulaKO on 06-12-2020

I have more respect for Hooker pulling out before coming into that fight over the limit He can’t makeweight , better like this than killing himself to make weight and then all the bullchit that ensues

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 06-12-2020

Contracts are contracts. If he agreed to 143 then he has to honor that or else give up some money.

Comment by Silver Spear on 06-12-2020

So he wants his opponent to concede to his terms to make the fight easier for him? If you are going to make Prograis move up, the least you could do is at least move down a pound to make…

Comment by tokon on 06-12-2020

Fight contract says 143? Hooker just confirmed he can't make it; effectively pulling out if the fight. Move on.

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