Hooker stops Saucedo to retain WBO super-lightweight title

RIZIN Fighting Federation's CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara speaks during a press conference, on the exhibition fight between US boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, upon his arrival at Haneda airport in Tokyo, on Saturday. A resurgent fight between boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr and a Japanese kickboxer will be a knockout bout but categorized as an exhibition, which will not flaw his unbeaten record, organizers said. — AFP

LOS ANGELES — Maurice Hooker survived a knockdown on the way to a seventh-round technical knockout of previously unbeaten Alex Saucedo on Friday to retain his World Boxing Organization super-lightweight world title.

Saucedo, a Mexico-born American fighting in his adopted hometown of Oklahoma City, delighted his fans when he sent Hooker to the canvas with a heavy right hand in the second round.

But Hooker found his rhythm and took charge in an aggressive seventh.

He was credited with a knockdown when he sent Saucedo reeling into the ropes and when the fight resumed after a standing eight-count Hooker pummeled the challenger until the referee jumped in to call a halt at 1:36 of the round.

Saucedo suffered his first defeat in 29 fights. Hooker improved to 25-0-3 with 17 knockouts as he made the first defense of the title he won on June 9 with a split decision victory over England's Terry Flanagan in Manchester.

Mayweather and kickboxer will

aim to 'knock out' in exhibition

Boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr and a Japanese kickboxer half his age will be aiming to knock each other out next month, despite the match-up being an exhibition, the fight's Japanese promoter said in Tokyo Saturday.

The bout between Mayweather and Tenshin Nasukawa, first announced earlier this month, was abruptly scrapped by the American boxer over a "misunderstanding", according to the CEO of mixed martial arts promotor RIZIN.

But on Friday it was back on for New Year's Eve. "It will be a non-official bout. It won't be on record. So it's an exhibition match," Nobuyuki Sakakibara told reporters at Haneda airport in Tokyo returning from talks with Mayweather in Los Angeles. "But at worst it's not going to be a sparring... they will fight aiming to knock out," he added.

The Mayweather side had been confused with the status of the bout as it was unclear if it will be an official fight, according to Sakakibara.

Asked if the bout could be canceled again, Sakakibara said: "I don't think there will be a cancelation unless unforeseen circumstances such as extraordinary natural phenomenon occur."

Mayweather has already said the fight would go ahead in Saitama, north of Tokyo, but would be an exhibition. "We're going to make it happen. It's a no-brainer," the retired welterweight boxer told the US website TMZ Sports in California on Wednesday.

The unbeaten 41-year-old, who won world titles in five different weight divisions, told the site the face-off would involve no kicking, saying: "It's going to be a little Boxing exhibition."

Sakakibara confirmed the fight would be an orthodox Boxing style without kicking, which will be a disadvantage for Nasukawa, an unbeaten kickboxer.

"But I want him to pull off something like a miracle," he said adding that further details of rules such as a decision will be discussed later.

Sakakibara also said a contract of the bout remained unchanged as the highest paid for such an exhibition, but did not reveal the amount. — AFP