Kevin Hooper belongs at the top of the boxing tree, says fight promoter Carl Greaves
FIGHT promoter Carl Greaves insists Kevin Hooper has proved he has the ability to compete at national level – even after defeat to Gary Sykes.
Greaves – a former British super-featherweight title contender – now doubles up as Hooper's manager on the professional boxing scene.
And while 'Super Hooper' suffered a unanimous points loss to 'Five Star' – at the Beachcomber, in Humberston, on Friday night – Greaves is convinced his man belongs at the top.
Greaves said: "Kev covered himself in glory really. There were lots of people writing him off before the fight, but he proved he can live the life at this level.
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"Sykes has been there at the very top. He has been in the ring with all the best fighters, and beaten them – he is a top-level British fighter, right at the top of the tree.
"We can build on this. We are not taking it as a setback, we can regroup and come back and challenge for another title. Kev has proved he is within the top five list of British fighters."
Although Hooper was condemned to a straight decision by the judges – who scored the fight 98-92, 97-94 and 96-95 in favour of 'Five Star' – there were stages in the bout when the Grimsby man made life uncomfortable for Sykes.
Indeed, the 28-year-old recovered from a nervy start to put himself back into contention – dominating the middle rounds before the Yorkshireman eventually triumphed.
Nonetheless, cheered on by around 450 home supporters, Grimsby's Hooper emerged from his first national title shot with an enhanced reputation.
Coach Sean Wood added: "Kev did the town really proud. He was fighting for a big title, against a man who made it to the final of Prizefighter last year.
"He went in there up against it. We didn't get the result, but we can use the experience – we now know that we belong at that level.
"Kev has never claimed to be a world beater. He is a father of three, from Grimsby, just doing his little bit for the town – he should be very proud."