Much too much: Jaime Munguia conquers Sadam Ali
Jaime Munguia begged for an opportunity to prove himself early, and although fate pulled him in, out and back into opportunity, the 21-year-old Mexican contender was destined for glory once dominating Sadam Ali on Saturday night and winning the WBO junior middleweight title.
“This victory is something huge for me,” said Munguia after his fourth round stoppage win. “This is a dream come true. Every fighter dreams of this. I want to thank the Nevada Commission for making this opportunity possible, as they didn’t allow me to fight (unified middleweight champion) Gennady Golovkin. I want to show that I am ready to fight at the highest level and with the best fighters.”
Fighting out of Tijuana, Mexico, Munguia, 29-0 (25), wasn’t exactly an unknown commodity before his upset win. He’d fought on HBO Latino before and had a constant presence on beIN Español, as Zanfer Promotions put him through the prospective stage. His opponents were the standard for Mexican prospects, and although how good he really was couldn’t be ascertained through those fights, the natural attributes were apparent. Size, heavy hands and a well-known cornerman by the name of Robert Alcazar, who most notably trained Oscar De La Hoya. Nowadays Alcazar isn’t interested in teaching any fighter unless he starts with the raw product.
In the opening moments of the fight, there was no question about Munguia’s size advantage and his very first right hand/left hook combo, started what would be a horrendous night for Ali. The 29-year-old was knocked down and hurt just after the first minute mark of his first defense. Ali, 26-2 (14), may’ve been wondering how the hell he found himself in this position. Originally he was supposed to fight Liam Smith on this night but a skin condition forced the Brit to be scratched just a couple of weeks ago. In order to salvage the HBO main event, Munguia was called upon as a substitute, having been a recent name in the network’s Rolodex after the Mexican agreed to fight Gennady Golovkin on May 5. However the Nevada State Athletic Commission squashed that plan with its disapproval of the proposed match-up.
Ali got up and frantically moved his feet midway through the first, trying to use his hand speed to ward off the bigger man. Last December on the network, Ali stunned everyone by moving up in weight from 147 pounds to outbox and beat Miguel Cotto, in the latter’s swan song, to win his first world title after failing in one attempt at welterweight. Going into this bout, Ali revitalized a stalled career and the confidence he gained in the process would lead him into a crucial miscalculation. Munguia had his timing locked in by the two minute mark, and another left hand stunned Ali into an attempted clinch but follow-up rights from the Mexican battered him to his knees for another knockdown. As referee Gary Rosato gave Ali his count, HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr. was already compelled to declare this one over.
After regrouping on the stool and receiving instructions from trainer Andre Rozier, Ali started the second round well, all things considered. The jab to the body was working but once Munguia landed his first clean right, the reality of the situation reared its ugly head. Ali’s back was forced to scrape the ropes for the remainder of the round, and, just before the bell sounded, he was walloped into another knockdown, thanks to a chopping right hand. As if we needed another indication of the disparity in size and strength, Munguia threw Ali into a backpedal to start the third, after landing a left hook that was partially blocked. To his credit, Ali didn’t shie away from the fight, no matter how much of a detriment it was to his performance on this night. “This would be a very interesting fight if they were the same size,” Jones murmured just before Ali had his best rally of the fight in the third. He landed a few shots on the inside but Munguia wasn’t dismayed or discouraged at all. He even managed to send Ali to the canvas again in the final 10 seconds of the round but Rosato ruled the incident as a slip.
Rozier had to plea with Rosato to let the fight continue before the fourth started, and Ali had to show the ringside doctor he was OK before the bell sounded. As the doctor exited the ring, you could almost see him shaking his head just before going through the ropes, or maybe it was the viewer imagining such a scene. One minute into the fourth, Munguia timed a beautiful left hook that dropped Ali hard to the canvas, and it prompted an immediate stoppage from Rosato, putting an end to the madness.
“I want to fight. I was getting ready for Liam Smith, and also I have Ramadan coming up, so I don’t really have time to wait. I’m a world champ – I like challenges. (Munguia) caught me early,” said Ali afterward. “That’s what affected me. I don’t want to give any excuses. He was the better man tonight. I have to check with my team to see a what’s next for me.” Ali, Brooklyn, New York, bounced right back up after the knockdown, which was just another example of his courage on this evening. He never backed down at the challenge ahead, and his heart may’ve been too big for his small junior middleweight frame. The interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman concluded with the broadcaster wishing to see him against someone his own size, and Ali proceeded to apologize for his failed night.
Fate brought Munguia to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, last Saturday night, and the victory calcified the 154-pound division, which now features a unified titleholder in Jarrett Hurd (IBF/WBA), and the effervescent Jermell Charlo (WBC), who are both fit for a style and size like Munguia’s. Whether the Mexican is ready for a fight like those remains to be seen, and so is his ability to shrink down to the junior middleweight limit at the weigh-in. One thing is for sure; Munguia is now a man with plenty of options with the victory, and now that Golden Boy Promotions has options on him, after giving him the opportunity, there are big money fights ahead that we may not even fathom at the moment.
In the HBO co-feature, Rey Vargas, 32-0 (22), successfully defended his WBC junior featherweight title a third time after beating Azat Hovhannisyan, 14-3 (11), via unanimous decision.