Boxing betting preview: Can Maurice Hooker upset Vergil Ortiz Jr.?

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·3 min read

It’s billed as the toughest fight of Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s young career, and it’s true that Maurice Hooker is a former world champion still in the prime of his career.

Yet the odds favoring Ortiz are overwhelming. At BetMGM, Ortiz is -1250 to win and -300 to win by knockout. Those are pretty daunting, especially when backing a 22-year-old who has yet to fully prove himself.

The bigger question in their welterweight fight is whether there is a way to find value on the +750 Hooker, who is now being trained by Brian McIntyre. Hooker has an astounding 80-inch reach and will have a full 10-inch reach advantage on Ortiz.

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He’s also fought far better opposition than Ortiz and his only loss came in a 2019 super lightweight unification bout with Jose Ramirez, in which he was stopped in the sixth.

Hooker isn’t considered a power puncher like Ortiz, so if he is to win, he’s going to have to walk the tightrope, avoid Ortiz’s power and pull out a decision. Hooker also has three draws and two split decision wins, which indicates he’s often in close bouts.

Working with McIntyre should mean two things are true with Hooker: He’ll be in better condition than he has been, and he’ll improve his fundamentals. That will go a long way.

Ortiz has proven consistent en route to going 16-0 with 16 KOs and he’s a studious, serious fighter. He’s unlikely to be surprised by anything that Hooker might try.

I think there is a talent gap here, and that Ortiz is on the verge of becoming a legitimate player in the top-heavy welterweight division.

But this is a fascinating fight for him and Hooker’s reach adds a unique dimension he hasn’t had to deal with before.

I think he figures it out, and so I’ll lay $300 on him to win by KO/TKO/Technical Decision or DQ, hoping to make a $100 profit.

I was tempted to put $100 on the fight ending in a draw, which is +2500, on the rationale that Hooker has been in so many close fights and that Ortiz may be befuddled by the reach.

I opted against that, though, because I think Ortiz has a chance to be special. While he may have his difficult moments in the bout, I think he’ll find a way to land something big and stop Hooker.

Other boxing betting plays

• I will lay -800 to win $100 (ugh) on Artur Beterbiev to win by KO/TKO/Technical Decision or DQ.

• I’ll take a gamble and bet $100 on Beterbiev to win by KO in the first round at +900.

• I will lay $100 on Lawrence Okolie to win by decision at +275 in his cruiserweight title fight with Krysztof Glowacki.

• I like Seneisa Estrada to win by KO over Anabel Ortiz. There is no line on that currently at BetMGM, so I’ll lay the -800 on her to win hoping to make $100.

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