Former junior welterweight world titleholder Maurice Hooker has announced he will move up in weight to compete in the welterweight division.

“I want to give my fans the best possible performances and, therefore, after careful deliberations with my manager (Arnie Verbeek) and promoter (Dino Duva of Roc Nation Sports), I have decided to move up to the 147-pound limit,” Hooker said in a statement.

Hooker (26-1-3, 17 KOs), 30, of Dallas, won a vacant 140-pound world title by split decision in former lightweight world titlist Terry Flanagan’s hometown of Manchester, England, in June 2018 and went on to make two successful defenses against Alex Saucedo and Mikkel LesPierre.

Hooker then lost the belt by action-packed sixth-round knockout to Jose Ramirez in their world title unification fight on July 27 in what amounted to a hometown fight for Hooker at the College Park Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Hooker made weight for the fight with Ramirez without too much of a struggle but he had struggled to make weight for other bouts.

At his age, with his 6-foot frame, and there not being any significant fight available for him in the junior welterweight division at this point, he made the decision to rise in weight.

“We’ve talked about it. I let him relax and take a vacation after the Ramirez fight,” Duva told ESPN. “Everybody knows he struggled with the weight. If there was a really big fight for him at 140 pounds right away he would probably consider giving it one more shot but I don’t think there’s anything like that on the horizon.

“So with Maurice not having the belt anymore we just figured this was the right move for him. There are some big potential fights for him if he makes the move. Welterweight is a loaded division. He feels he will be stronger and more comfortable at 147 pounds. This move makes sense.”

Duva said he planned to make sure Hooker, who earned a career-high payday of nearly $2 million for the fight with Ramirez, has a nutritionist to make sure he makes 147 pounds the right way instead of just having to dry out less than he did to make 140.

Duva said that Hooker, who is co-promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, would return to the ring at the new weight in late November or December on DAZN, the broadcaster with which Hearn has a deal.

“I’m already looking at possible opponents,” Duva said. “I want him to fight a credible guy in his first fight at 147, somebody in the rankings. We think one or two wins and then we can position Maurice for a big fight at welterweight, so this is the move that makes sense for him.”