If you come at Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker, you best not miss. That’s because he doesn’t just talk trash — he’s got the hands to back up his words. “I can’t stand him. He’s weak. He’s soft. I’m gonna wake him up! He’s going down,” said Hooker, the 28-year-old reigning WBO NABO super lightweight champion. This was of his next opponent, the undefeated Englishman Terry Flanagan. The scheduled bout between the two fighters for a world title is in April, and Hooker stoked the fire with these words in mid-February on the BoxNation podcast. He also added another Muhammad Ali-esque proclamation : “I’m gonna punch him in his mouth!”
What have I ever done to him? https://t.co/rKQcWlHZqB
— Terry Flanagan (@terryflanagan5) February 13, 2018
Hooker, a native of Dallas’ rough Oak Cliff neighborhood, boasts an impressive record of 23 wins on 16 knockouts, zero defeats and three draws (vs. Tyrone Chatman in 2011, Abel Ramos in 2014 and Darleys Perez in 2016). In 2015, four years after he turned pro, Hooker claimed the North American super lightweight title with a sixth-round knockout of Eduardo Galindo. He went on to successfully defend his belt against Courtney Jackson last summer.
Despite being signed to Roc Nation Sports — a division of rapper Jay-Z’s entertainment company — Hooker has yet to cross paths with Jay-Z himself. Maybe a win over Flanagan gets him that meeting. As Hooker prepares for the biggest fight of his life, The Undefeated spoke with him about his boxing influences, his hometown Dallas Cowboys and how he survived Oak Cliff to fight on the world’s stage.
How’d you get the nickname “Mighty Mo”?
My manager, he gave it to me. It was pretty good, because I couldn’t think of one at the time. I liked it a lot.
What made you sign with Roc Nation?
Me and my manager talked, and we thought it was the right thing to do at the time … I haven’t met Jay-Z yet, but I’m pretty sure, when I win this world title, I’ll meet him.
You have three draws … How close were you to winning those fights?
My first one, I was a little disappointed — I thought I won. But I was just happy that they ain’t try to rob me, and give me a loss. It was in St. Louis and I was ready to get out of there. My second one, I was really disappointed. It was my first time fighting on Showtime, and I thought I pulled it off. I was superhurt about that. My third one? I was OK with it. It could’ve went either way.
Who’s the best boxer you’ve ever sparred with?
Terence Crawford … He’s so smart in the ring, and he pushed me.
If you could fight one boxer, past or present, regardless of weight class, who would it be and why?
Tommy “Hitman” Hearns, because I like his style. I think he’d make me work hard — bring out the best in me.
Who are some of the boxers you looked up to you when you started your career?
What’s one thing you always do before a fight?
I have a sucker … the flavor don’t matter to me, it’s just something to keep my mind off the fight and relax me.
How do you choose the color and style of your trunks for fights?
Me and my team come together and figure it out. But the uniform don’t matter to me. The only thing that matters to me is the fight.
What’s the biggest purchase you’ve made since you turned pro?
A truck — a 2001 Chevy shortbed. It had rims on it. That’s what made me get it … It was a pretty bad decision of mine. But it was my first truck, so why not!
If you could give your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
To be dedicated and stay with it. I’d make better decisions.
Outside of boxing, who’s your favorite athlete of all time?
I’m a big fan of Michael Jordan.
You’re from Dallas — are you a Cowboys fan?
Yeah, when they’re winning.
What’s it going to take for the Cowboys to win another Super Bowl?
Man, a lot … New coaches, some rookies that play defense. Too much stuff.
Who are your favorite musical artists right now?
Where does your courage come from?
My family, and my kids. I just wanted to be the best for them.
What will you always be a champion of?
My life, and the way I changed … my surroundings, the way I think and how I react to things — I changed a lot, and I’m very proud of that.