By Chris Robinson
Having relocated to Las Vegas from his previous residence of San Diego, trainer Vince Parra stays busy these days with a core group of fighters that consists of junior welterweight prospect Maurice Hooker (12-0-1, 9 KO’s), featherweight veteran Aaron Garcia (13-3-2, 4 KO’s), and former world title challenger Rolly Lunas (34-9-1, 20 KO’s).
Parra and his squad are still adapting to the boxing life in a new city and he has his eyes set on Hooker’s Showtime debut two weekends from now in Memphis, Ten.
Hooker is a rangy, boxer-puncher with a crisp and powerful right hand that can’t help but remind you of a young Tommy Hearns.
Parra recently took Hooker through the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles for some brisk sparring with the likes of Miguel Cotto, Ruslan Provodnikov and Ray Beltran and he insists it was all to get a gauge on where his 24-year old charge stands.
“I just wanted to test him,” Parra said of the sparring at the world renowned gym. “He’s a young man and he has 12 fights now as a professional. Just getting him the seasoning from veterans, world champions, and world class guys; seeing how he reacts to being in with those guys and how he progresses.”
Provodnikov is coming off of a breakout year that saw him go to war with Tim Bradley in March in losing a close decision before returning seven months later to halt Mike Alvarado in another thriller.
In those two performances, Provodnikov showed tremendous grit and power. In the wake of all the buzz surrounding the Russian native, Provodnikov now finds himself in the running for an April crack at his friend Manny Pacquiao, who he has sparred several rounds over the past few years.
It’s the kind of match that would likely be entertaining, but Parra just doesn’t see the straight-forward style of Provodnikov serving him well against one of the game’s most dynamic talents.
“Ruslan’s a real tough guy,” said Parra. “He is the Russian Rocky. But Pacquiao right now, that style is tailor made for him. It’s a great fight while it lasts.
“I don’t want to call which way it would go, but if that fight happens it would be a great action fight for the fans because you’ve got a guy who comes forward and a master-boxer and real good puncher in Manny Pacquiao who looks to be 100% back now,” Parra added. “So I don’t give Ruslan too much of a chance outside of landing a big one on Pacquiao. From outside in, Manny runs away with it.”
PLEASE CHECK BELOW for more exclusive coverage from the boxing world…
Chris Robinson can be reached at Trimond@aol.com