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Maurice Hooker vs. Alex Saucedo purse bid won by Top Rank

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By Chris Williams: In a huge blow to Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing USA promotional company, Top Rank won Tuesday’s purse bid for the for WBO light welterweight champion Maurice Hooker’s mandatory title defense against Alex Saucedo (28-0, 18 KOs). Top Rank won the bid for their fighter Saucedo with a winning bid of $1.625 million. Hooker will be defending against Saucedo in November in Oklahoma.

Hooker’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom USA came in second with a bid of $1.55 million. This is a big negative for Hearn, who recently signed the 29-year-old American Hooker to his promotional stable with the intent to have his fights streamed on DAZN in the U.S. But with Hearn losing the purse bid on Tuesday, he’ll have to be satisfied with Hooker’s title defense against Saucedo being either streamed on ESPN+ or televised on ESPN.

If Hooker can beat Saucedo, he’ll be able to return to DAZN and defend his title against one of the top fighters on that platform. Hooker will definitely get a boost in popularity if he beats Saucedo, especially if the fight is shown by Top Rank Boxing on regular ESPN and not on ESPN+, which requires fans pay $5 per month to subscribe to the subscription service.

Hooker will enjoy a 75/25 split of the $1.625 million purse, which comes out to $1.2 million. That’s a very good payday for Hooker, who isn’t a big name. Hooker recently captured the vacant WBO 140 pound title in defeating former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs) by a 12 round split decision on June 9 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

Hearn losing he purse bid was not a good thing for him, as he’s supposed to be taking over American boxing with his new deal with the DAZN platform. Obviously, Hearn is going to need to get better at winning purse bids if he wants to have the appealing fights like the Hooker-Saucedo fight to be streamed on DAZN. It’s not going to work for Hearn to be scrimping with the money in trying to out-bid American promotional powerhouses like Top Rank. Hearn is going to need to open up his piggy bank for him to be able to out-box Top Rank.

Saucedo stopped 30-year-old fringe contender Leonardo Zappavigna (37-4, 27 KOs) in the 7th round on June 30 in a fight of the year candidate. Saucedo was hurt in the 4th round and almost knocked out. It was lucky for Saucedo that the referee Gerald Ritter didn’t step in and halt the fight in the 4th round because he could have certainly stopped the fight at that time. Saucedo was getting hammered badly in the round and on the verge of being stopped in the clinical sense.

Top Rank is hoping to turn Saucedo into a star. The best way to do that is to make sure that Saucedo, 24, is able to fight in front of his own boxing fans in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. If Saucedo beats Hooker to capture the WBO 140 pound title, Top Rank wants to match him against WBC light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez (22-0, 16 KOs) in a unification fight. Top Rank also promotes the 26-year-old Ramirez, so it would be an in house for them if they can make that fight. Ramirez has to get past his next opponent #3 WBC Antonio ‘Relentless’ Orozco (27-0, 17 KOs) on September 14 on ESPN at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California. That’s a very winnable fight for Ramirez. If Orozco was viewed as a threat to Ramirez, Top Rank likely would have steered around him like they arguably did with Regis Prograis. Ramirez will need to deal with Prograis whether Top Rank likes it or not. If Prograis captures the World Boxing Super Series 140 pound tournament, Ramirez will need to face him if he wants to continue to hold onto his WBC title. Prograis is the interim World Boxing Council light welterweight title, and he’ll be gunning for him if he wins the WBSS 140lb tournament.

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