Chordale “The Gift” Booker (19-1, 8 KOs) realizes that he’s at a pivotal moment in his career. The 32-year-old is in the final stages of preparation to defend his WBC US Super Welterweight title for the first time against Nicolas Hernandez (27-6-3, 12 KOs). The bout serves as the main event of a massive pro and amateur card taking place on August 12 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.
It’ll be the third fight of 2023 for the Stamford native, who appreciates the activity CES Boxing is providing him after fighting only once a year in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
“I haven’t fought this many times since 2018,” explains Booker. “Activity goes a long way for a fighter like me because I build on whatever I did in my last fight. In training camp, we build on whatever went well and work on whatever didn’t go well that I need to improve on.”
A lot has improved for Booker, who is looking to make it 3 wins in a row after a disappointing knockout loss to Austin “Ammo” Williams in 2022. Looking back on that fight, Chordale realizes that he took the opportunity at a higher weight class for the money and exposure that a big fight at Madison Square Garden would bring. What he hadn’t considered was how inactivity could impact his performance on fight night.
“I was off for a while before that fight,” reflects Booker of the only loss on his record. “I tore my Achilles and then COVID happened, and I rushed things. Instead of taking on guys that I could beat to get my rhythm back, I wanted to jump right in there and fight guys at the same level as when I left, but I was no longer at that level – I needed to build back to where I was before.”
That experience may have been a blessing in disguise, as it marked a turning point for Booker, who knew that he had cut some corners leading up to that fight and needed to dedicate himself more fully to the sport to reach his potential.
“The biggest thing I learned was to take things more seriously,” says the affable boxer. “Eating the right things to make sure I regained my weight properly after I weigh-in and taking the time to really perfect my craft.”
Moving back down to 154, his natural weight class, Booker also began studying the greats. He picked up on the nuances of the sport: the blending of offense and defense by Julio Cesar Chavez, how Larry Holmes controlled distance with his jab, and how ultra-disciplined fighters such as Bernard Hopkins and Marvin Hagler prepared for fights and capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes.
“I’ve been watching a lot of tape, studying various fighters and watching tapes of myself to see where I could’ve thrown more shots in between the other person’s punches,” explains Booker. “Where I was letting guys off the hook, I’m no longer going to do that, because I won’t let guys who shouldn’t be in the ring with me for 8, 10 rounds last. I’m going to get them out of there. I want there to be a clear separation between me and someone who shouldn’t be in there with me.”
This is precisely what Booker did in his last fight, a four-round demolition of Daniel Aduku to win the WBC US Super Welterweight title. Aduku was tough early on, but Booker broke him down with a patient body attack until he found an opening: a right jab followed by a straight left that stunned Aduku and forced him to hold. Booker then spun his opponent and surprised him with a razor-sharp left to the chin that caused the Ghanian to crumble to the ropes for the count.
“I wanted to knock him out,” says Booker, who fought Aduku in April at Mohegan Sun Arena. “I told my coaches ‘I don’t want this to go the distance.’ I’m going to take more risks to get him out of there because I want to show the fans that I’m an exciting guy and I want people to want to come out and see me hurt these guys and get to the next level. This was different from when I fought Angel Hernandez. I felt good in that fight, but I didn’t take a lot of risks. I just wanted to get back to winning.”
Booker looks to keep the knockout streak alive against Nicolas Hernandez, a gritty Puerto Rican southpaw out of Reading, Pennsylvania who will pressure ‘The Gift’ with activity and volume punching. Booker is betting that Hernandez will be there to be countered, and he plans to make him pay for his mistakes.
“Hernandez doesn’t seem to be too much of a puncher, he’s more of a combination puncher,” assesses Booker. “He’s kind of off balance when he goes for his power shots, so I’ll be looking to counter. I’m going to take advantage of that. I’m going to take advantage of him.”
The loss to Williams behind him, Booker is confident that if he keeps turning in impressive performances in his home state of Connecticut, he will become a star attraction in the Northeast.
“Fighting in my home state regularly is something I’ve always wanted,” emphasizes Booker, who will be fighting at Mohegan Sun Arena for the third consecutive time in 2023. “It was cool fighting at the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden because it’s where the greats have fought, but there’s nothing like fighting at home. I was recently at a WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena, and I was looking around and was amazed that I get to fight here on a regular basis. It’s one of the best arenas and casinos in the United States, period. I feel honored that I keep doing it over and over and get to become a star in this area, and I just want everybody to know who I am and support me because I really believe that I’m going to be one of the top guys and a world champion soon.”
Chordale, who is also active in the community via his “Go the Distance” Foundation, wants to inspire and demonstrate that suffering a setback does not define a career or one’s life.
“I’m rebounding from my only loss at 160 and coming back down to 154,” explains Booker. “I’m showing people that just because you have one loss in the sport, it doesn’t mean that you’re done. You can still become a champion and continue to grow. I want the fans to come out and enjoy my fight, because I’ve really been working hard. I’m going to put on a masterclass as the main event. It’s my first main event ever. I want a lot of people there supporting me as I knock this guy out.”
Tickets for “Summer Heat 2023” are priced at $46, $66, $140 and $165. They are quickly selling out, so fans are encouraged to buy them at CESfights.com, Ticketmaster or at the Mohegan Sun box office. A single ticket is valid for both the pro card and “Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Invitational” amateur showcase. Doors open at 4pm, with the first amateur bout starting at 4:30pm and the pro card beginning at 6:30pm.