Jaime Munguia is still under construction
When you ask trainer Robert Alcazar if Jaime Munguia still has the same attitude and work ethic as he did prior to winning the WBO junior middleweight title on May 12, by blasting out Sadam Ali, a smile creases across his face.
“Better than before,” he answered without hesitation, last week, during a media day held to drum up some interest for Munguia’s bout against Liam Smith (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas.
Alcazar continued, “He keeps going; he keeps going. I’m very happy with his attitude and his desire to accomplish his goals.”
At just 21, the upside is very apparent in the hard-hitting and active Munguia. Unlike many fighters, who will perhaps just shadowbox a round or two, and then pose for pics before meeting with the press, Munguia actually wrapped his hands, donned the gloves and went through a pretty rigorous workout on the pads with Alcazar (best known for being the original trainer of Oscar De La Hoya), and then a few more rounds in which he showed his prodigious power on the heavy bags.
— DAZN Kim (@steveucnlive) July 11, 2018
It’s clear that, at this stage, this young man from Tijuana still relishes process of preparing for fights. According to Alcazar, Munguia has a hunger to be great.
“Absolutely. That’s the reason why we’re together. I told him from the beginning, ‘I don’t want to just work with a fighter from the bunch – there’s plenty of those already. If you want to be different, I am there for you.’ And that’s what we do, and he really shows me that every single day, same attitude, gets better at things every day and he’s learning every day,” stated Alcazar.
At the beginning of 2018, Munguia was considered a good prospect. After victories over Jose Carlos Paz (KO 3) and Johnny Navarrete (KO 3), he was actually in position to face unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, as “GGG” needed a dance partner for May 5, after his rematch with Saul Alvarez was scratched. It said a lot that his handlers accepted that opportunity before the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Bob Bennett (the same jurisdiction that licensed two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor last year versus Floyd Mayweather Jr.), in their infinite wisdom, believed Munguia simply wasn’t competent or seasoned enough of a prizefighter for such a daunting assignment.
When asked about the possibility of nearly facing Golovkin, Munguia told a group of reporters (though his promoter Fernando Beltran of Zanfer Promotions), “The first thing is to beat Golovkin; that goes through my mind. I was only thinking of beating him and then to bring the people a great fight because I thought the fight was for sure, and then the people denied the fight for me.”
As talented as Munguia is, that would’ve been like feeding steak to a baby. He said, in hindsight, “I would like to thank them, the boxing commission. Everything happens for a reason, and they denied the fight for me and honestly it was better.”
What made things better was, as Liam Smith pulled out of the Ali fight, Munguia was dialed up as his replacement. As they say, the rest is history, as he pounded Ali into submission. This bout could be dubbed the “Turning Stone Massacre,” as he sent Ali to the canvas four times in three rounds (one, two and four) to win the belt.
It was as lopsided a title fight as you’ll ever see. “I don’t think anything was easy but I prepared myself very good in the gym, and also it’s because of my punching power,” said Munguia, who isn’t your stereotypical Mexican plodder. In the gym, it’s clear that he has good legs and quick feet for his size. A guy like Ali, who was chinny when he was at 147 pounds, realistically had no shot versus the “Baja Wrecking Ball.”
“It didn’t surprise me, at all,” said Alcazar, who forecast a KO beforehand. “I was thinking that fight should be over at any time, in the first six rounds. That was not a surprise for me.”
Ironically now they face Smith, a solid 154-pounder, who once actually held this title and went nine rounds versus “Canelo.” He should provide a barometer of just where Munguia stands in the division. “He’s a different fighter; he’s a totally fighter. Ali was a mover, hit-and-run, a lot of movement, and, with Liam Smith, it’s totally different. He doesn’t box; he just comes straight right up to you and he doesn’t have no defense,” opined Alcazar.
Munguia was asked about the possibility of eventually tangling with the other beltholders in the division, like Jermell Charlo (WBC) and Jarrett Hurd (IBF/WBA) and he stated, “I would love to unify my title with any of these. Charlo or Hurd – but I prefer the fight with Hurd.”
A showdown between Munguia and Hurd would be among the best pure action fights that could be made in the sport. However for the time being, the focus is on Smith, whose style might be tailor-made for him.
Beltran is bullish on Munguia’s future. “I have the next Mexican star,” said the man whose company previously represented Erik Morales, Jorge Arce and Jose Luis Castillo. Should he come out victorious this weekend, the plan is for Zanfer to stage a title defense for Munguia in Tijuana, and then start promoting him in the Los Angeles area.
For all this to happen, he must first defeat Smith. Then who knows where this is headed? However Munguia has lofty aspirations.
“I would like to be a great champion, not just like any champion. Honestly I want to make history in the sport.”
You’ll hear from Teofimo Lopez and his father and Beltran on this edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me:
HARD ROCK FLURRIES
Speaking of Teofimo Lopez, he will be undergoing surgery on the right hand he damaged last weekend, versus William Silva…WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford won the ESPY for the best fighter of 2018…So the Dodgers should win the World Series now, right?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.