Maurice Hooker v Mikkel LesPierre betting preview

Article first appeared on Gambling.com

Tonight at central New York’s Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Maurice Hooker defends his WBO light welterweight belt against Brooklyn’s adopted Trinidadian, Mikkel “Slick Mikk” LesPierre.

The fight is the co-main feature alongside Dmitry Bivol’s light heavyweight title fight with Joe Smith Jr., who is best known for spoiling Bernard Hopkins’ farewell night.

Hooker will contest the title for the third time in nine months, a level of activity few current champions or established contenders match.

Hooker vs LesPierre Betting Tips

At 29, Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker (25-0-3, 17 KOs) remains in his physical prime. This will be his 32nd professional contest. The Dallas-born fighter won the title in England, defeating unbeaten Brit Terry Flanagan by split decision. That result did not reflect Hooker’s dominance in a bout where he was the underdog.

Tall and rangy, Hooker has a distinctive style, his footwork is very good and he has a stiff straight right hand. He is an excellent finisher once he makes a breakthrough despite his modest knockout ratio.

In his first title defense, against the rugged Alex Saucedo in November, Hooker survived a second-round knockdown to stop the Mexican in the seventh.

Hooker’s most destructive performance ended similarly, with sharp right hands and a flurry of hooks proving too much for Ty Barnett in the opening round of their 2016 fight.

Flaws remain, however. Hooker lacks head movement and is slow to bring back his left hand when he jabs, a combination of factors which would encourage a puncher either as the aggressor or as a counterpuncher.

Too frequently he can be startled by a fast jab or a counter back hand.

“I can guarantee you that I’m leaving New York City with another ‘W’ in the win column,” Hooker said, according to Ring magazine. “I’m hungry to get back to competing and I’m going to put on a great show so that I can bring my belt back to Dallas for my next bout.”

Hooker sounds dismissive, and his promoter of record, Eddie Hearn, proposes that more illustrious opponents could lay ahead in 2019.

So, there is a “he’s overlooking this fight” narrative out there. With eight children to support, and as a late bloomer in the title picture, talk of bigger purses for fights with Jorge Linares or the winner of the World Boxing Super Series could distract Hooker.

LesPierre vs Hooker Best Bets

Unfortunately for boxing betting fans looking for better odds than the market-leading -3335 offered by 888Sport on a Hooker victory, Mikkel LesPierre lacks the pedigree or attributes to challenge Hooker. He boasts a pretty 21-0-1 record with 10 KOs and has boxed just 27 fewer professional rounds than the champion.

But the numbers mislead. His fights have taken place far below world level and his best career win, against Noel Murphy, for a regional WBC belt, remains a step or three below the heights he needs to scale on Saturday.

More positively, LesPierre, listed at +1100 by 888Sport, appreciates he has much to prove.

“Many people may not think I am deserving but I don’t take any heed of that,” LesPierre said. “My mind is too strong for that. Come March 9 I’m gonna show people why I was given the opportunity. I have a lot to offer. When you really want something bad enough you do what you gotta do to get it.”

His southpaw stance will offer him some hope of capitalizing on Hooker’s lazy left hand and open chin.

LesPierre has decent reflexes and has built himself slowly, on local-level shows, while maintaining a full-time job to balance the books. At 34, this is his Rocky moment.

Sadly, for LesPierre at least, boxing is a sport of levels. Hooker has height, reach, power and the pedigree advantages and as odds emerge for an early finish toward fight night, take advantage at +500 odds with BetHard for Hooker to end the fight in Rounds 4-6.

Hooker, an increasingly confident champion, doesn’t relent once has hurt an opponent. No matter how badly LesPierre may want the crown, I believe he will be stunned and stopped before halfway, so Hooker to win by KO, TKO or disqualification at -110 with Bet365 is a decent play.


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