WATCH: Jose Ramirez shocks Maurice Hooker with massive TKO to claim junior welterweight title

Jose Ramirez went on the road and became the unified 140-pound champion on Saturday night with a stunning sixth-round stoppage of Maurice Hooker in Dallas, Texas. With the victory, Ramirez retained his WBC light welterweight belt and captured Hooker’s WBO strap. 

The fight started out in controversial fashion, with Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) scoring a first-round knockdown after stepping on Hooker’s foot. It was a difficult call in real time for the referee because Ramirez flicked out a punch at the same time, but the replay clearly showed that it shouldn’t have been ruled a knockdown. In the aftermath, even Ramirez himself acknowledged as much.

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As the fight went on, that ruling seemed like it could have major implications, with the two fighters battling through a number of close rounds. Both had their moments, with Ramirez seizing control when he was able to pin Hooker (26-1-3, 17 KOs) against the ropes, while Hooker had plenty of success of his own when the fight was in the middle of the ring and could use his massive reach advantage. 

Ramirez, though, made sure there would be no controversy. In the sixth round, he rocked Hooker with a wicked left hook that sent the hometown hero stumbling backwards into the ropes. Realizing his opponent was struggling, Ramirez pressed the action, hitting Hooker with a number of big shots until the referee jumped in to stop the action. 

“I went back to my fundamentals, working on my jab, closing the distance, slowly, slowly without him knowing I was in range to land the combinations,” Ramirez said. “I was closing the distance and once I felt like I was in range, I threw that 1-2 jab that works perfectly for me. It worked really good against Mike Reed and when I surprised him with the 1-2 jab and I buckled him into the ropes, that’s when I let my right hand go with another combination on punches.”

Hooker, who was completely out on his feet, didn’t protest the referee’s decision to halt the contest. At the time of the stoppage, two judges scoring the fight ringside had it for Ramirez at 49-45 and 48-46, while one had it a draw at 47-47. 

With two 140-pound belts now under his control, the obvious question is what’s next for Ramirez. 

Coming up later this year, Regis Prograis is set to battle Josh Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight final, with the other two 140-pound belts on the line. Thus, the obvious next step would be for Ramirez to fight the winner of Prograis versus Taylor to unify all four belts at light welterweight. Speaking in the ring after his victory on Saturday, Ramirez said he was up for the challenge.

“Of course. I signed up to fight against the best fighters, you know,” Ramirez said. “And [Prograis and Taylor] are the top guys right now at 140, with me and Maurice Hooker. We took that step to fight each other. They’re doing it because they have to in the tournament. But yeah, I want the other titles, that’s my main goal. I don’t know if I have a date set for that fight, but if they don’t, I would be happy to be back on ESPN one more time before the year ends.”