Robert Alcazar is working with Jaime Munguia
Robert Alcazar will always be best-known for his work with Oscar De La Hoya. Now as he prepares Jaime Munguia for this Saturday night’s contest in Verona, New York, against WBO 154-pound beltholder Sadam Ali (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT), he believes he has his best fighter since the “Golden Boy.”
“Without a doubt, in my opinion, Jaime Munguia is a future star of Mexico,” said Alcazar, who, in the past, also had stints with the late Edwin Valero and Jessie Vargas. “He’s a full package; he’s got talent. You just name it; he’s just got everything. He’s got power you cannot buy in the store. He really can do it.”
Munguia is relatively unknown but there’s certainly some raw talent there to work with. The head of Zanfer Promotions, Fernando Beltran, had made it clear that, for Munguia to reach his ceiling as a fighter, he’d need to work in a gym in Southern California, where there is suitable sparring on a consistent basis and they could hook up with a trainer they could trust. It’s how this union was consummated.
“The main thing I like about (Munguia) is his attitude,” said Alcazar, glowingly. “He never tires; he crosses the mountain every morning, I ask him, ‘How you feel?’ Always he answers with a positive attitude – ‘I run really good today.’ He comes here to the gym and you see it right now. Look, it’s 30 rounds on that clock already. It’s 30 rounds on the time and he’s still going. That attitude, I have not seen it in the last 20 years.”
On this particular day, Munguia engaged in sparring and then worked the pads with Alcazar, followed by bag work. He then finished his day’s work by doing neck and ab exercises. This much is clear in seeing him up close: He’s a physically imposing young man, has raw power and has a real motor.
Alcazar was brought in to smooth out the rough edges.
He says, ”Basically we’re working on his movement and his technique and he’s progressing big-time.” They’ve only been together for about a month but it’s evident that there is some real athleticism to mold. Munguia, who’s just 21 years old, has pretty quick feet and live legs. “He’s got beautiful footwork already and he’s got beautiful hand speed. He moves his head, his waist a lot now.”
This will still be a work in progress – hey, Rome was not built in a day – but Alcazar, who is really focusing on sharpening Munguia’s jab says, “In two or three months he’ll be a 100 percent different fighter.”
The question this week is: Is he good enough or improved enough to defeat Ali, who upset the applecart in sending off Miguel Cotto with a loss last December. Ali is certainly a well-schooled boxer with a significant advantage in experience but, on the flipside, Ali has been chinny in the past and was stopped by the aforementioned Vargas two years ago at welterweight. There’s still some doubt if he’s a legitimate 154-pounder.
It’s an intriguing fight, one that might be overshadowed by the proceedings at Madison Square Garden on the same evening but one in which hardcore fans still have interest.
For a trainer who was a part of notable career like De La Hoya’s, Alcazar has been strangely absent from the sport. Usually when a trainer has a big-name client, he is able to parlay this into consistent work for years.
So where has he been?
“Basically I like to build my fighters from scratch,” explained Alcazar. “I’ve got some other fighters who I’ve been working with them from the beginning. Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda (a 28-1 junior welterweight contender), he’s fighting for the WBA world title in Mexico two weeks after Jaime Munguia. I got him from the beginning. I’ve got another real good prospect kid, Francisco De Vaca (a featherweight). He’s undefeated in 18 fights, and many other fighters.
It looks like the Robert Alcazar story will have a few more chapters to go.
“Of course,” he says, laughing. “This is the beginning for me because, like I said, I got great, great prospects here.”
And at the top of that list is Munguia.
“I’m very, very excited with this kid because he’s only 21. He’s a baby in there. What I’m most happy with him is his attitude. He never tires; he’s always on time. He’s never late; he’s happy all the time,” said Alcazar.
“He just asks me, ‘What else? What’s next?’ Every single day is like that.”
I was able to see Munguia and Alcazar last week, after being given the address to their workout spot from a representative of Zanfer. It turns out this is a private gym – located in an industrial strip in the city of Downey – owned by hard-hitting welterweight John Molina Jr.
“Yeah, it’s mine. It’s a private spot just for me,” Molina explained. Although this facility is just for him, he allows Alcazar to use it for his stable of boxers. For years, he had spent hours on the road going to different gyms but now, he finally has a gym in a convenient location.
But a warning to any visitors: Please have good aim inside the restroom.
Here’s the latest edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me. We talk all things boxing and discuss LeBron James’ all-time standing in the NBA.