Vergil Ortiz Jr. keeps knockout streak alive, stops Maurice Hooker in seventh round

It was supposed to be the toughest test of Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s career.

It ended just like every other fight. 

Ortiz Jr. improved to 17-0 with 17 knockouts by stopping Maurice Hooker in the seventh round in the main event of Saturday’s card at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Hooker made his official debut at 147 pounds after sucking himself down to 140 pounds for years. The prevailing thought was that Hooker would prove to be a durable opponent who could withstand the 22-year-old Ortiz’s vicious power. But it didn’t take long for that power to weigh heavily on Hooker’s psyche — just a couple of rounds for him to realize Ortiz was a different kind of fighter. 

Ortiz and Hooker met in the middle of the ring and mixed it up from the opening bell to see who was the tougher fighter. Both threw punches with bad intentions, but Ortiz demonstrated that his punches had more of an effect. 

It seemed as if the fight could end early as Ortiz pushed Hooker into the ropes constantly and buried heavy leather into his face and torso. But Hooker made a change in the fourth round, using his jab and circling away from his opponent’s shots. But Hooker is known for having a heart as big as his home state of Texas, and so the former WBO 140-pound champion found himself back in a firefight in the sixth round. “Mighty Mo” proved to be durable as he absorbed punches to the head, but Ortiz’s commitment to working the body proved to be the difference. 

“He was showing me that he was durable and could definitely take a punch,” Ortiz said. “He was smart but I knew what to do. I knew it wasn’t going to be the head, so I had to go to the body.” 

The sixth round was all Ortiz as he plunged heavy hooks into Hooker’s torso. Eventually, the pounding mounted and Hooker began to back off because of the punishment. But Ortiz wouldn’t allow him to retreat and followed him with a bevy of punches that sent him down. 

The blood was in the water and the shark decided to feast.

Ortiz immediately met Hooker in the middle of the ring in Round 7 and throttled him with body shots. Hooker was hurt but refused to back down and fired back. Ortiz landed a jab to the body and a hook. Hooker followed with a right hand but then immediately turned around in pain and took a knee as the referee counted him out at the 36-second mark of the round. Hooker said afterward that he broke his hand and was forced to quit.

Either way, Ortiz is now a major player in the 147-pound division, and he wants a title fight.

“I’m ready for a title shot and whoever is going to give me the opportunity,” Ortiz said with champions Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford ringside. “I would love that opportunity to fight Crawford, who is one of the best two fighters in the world. I’m looking at you, Bud. I don’t care if I’m ready or not, I want that fight.”

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