By Miguel Maravilla
WBO super welterweight champion Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico is set for his first title defense against former world champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) of England this Saturday at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. Munguia will look impress once again. “I’m very excited for this fight and very motivated to be fighting on HBO again,” Munguia said.
The 21-year-old started the year as a virtual unknown. He quietly made his U.S. debut last December in Las Vegas on the Micky Roman-Orlando Salido non-televised undercard stopping Paul Valenzuela Jr. in two rounds. Munguia went on to win his next two fights in Mexico by knockout.
Then things got interesting.
When the highly anticipated rematch between Canelo and Golovkin fell apart shortly before the scheduled May 5 date, “GGG” was left without an opponent. One of the names prominently mentioned for Golovkin was Jaime Munguia.
Fortunately for Munguia the Nevada State Athletic Commission denied the young Mexican prospect a shot at Golovkin. “Things happen for a reason but I don’t understand how the commission was able to approve Connor McGregor’s fight against Mayweather. Nevertheless, the potential fight against Gennady Golovkin really got my name out there. It allowed me to get the opportunity to fight for a world title. I’m grateful for that.
“I got the call to fight Sadam Ali with only two weeks’ notice. I knew my advantage was my reach and my power. I knew that he was a smaller fighter.” Munguia disposed of 2008 U.S Olympian Sadam Ali in four rounds to claim Ali’s WBO 154lb world title.
Munguia is trained by Oscar De La Hoya’s former trainer Robert Alcazar, who guided De La Hoya to multiple world titles. The duo trained in southern California in preparation for the Englishman and former champion Smith.
“We had a sensational training camp. We have a great team,” Munguia stated. “I feel good we had a good camp. So I feel very good, I’m coming into this fight one hundred percent,”
His opponent Smith since being stopped by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez back in September of 2016 has won three straight fights and is coming off back to back wins over Liam Williams. Smith was originally scheduled to take on Sadam Ali, but he withdrew from the May 12 fight due to a skin condition from an allergic reaction that forced him to pull out.
“I think that the only advantage that Liam Smith has is that he’s fought in big events before. But I have many fights under my belt. I have a lot of experience,” Munguia commented. “Him pulling out of the fight gave me the opportunity.”
Munguia has already expressed interest in a potential unification bout in the stacked and talented super welterweight division. Rival champions include WBC champ Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs) and unified WBA/IBF champ Jarret Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs)
“I would love to have a unify my titles in my weight class with Charlo or Hurd but I prefer Hurd.” Munguia concluded. “I feel very motivated now that I’m a world champion. Everyone is going to talk about me after this fight. This will open up more opportunities. After this fight everyone will compare me to Canelo and Golvokin. I want to be a great champion and a legend.”
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