It was well over a year ago in December of 2017 when I saw a young super welterweight prospect Jaime Munguia of Tijuana, Mexico for the first time. Fighting in the U.S. for the first time on the Orlando Salido vs. Mikey Roman non-televised card against Paul Valenzuela at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. There was some buzz prior to his fight by media comparing him to former world champion Antonio Margarito, also of Tijuana. Standing tall, long, and rangy. I can see the similarity. Munguia would go on to win annihilate Valenzuela, stopping him in two rounds. The young fighter continued to stay active as he would go on to win his next two fights.
What a difference a year makes. When the anticipated rematch between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Gennady "GGG" Golovkin was made early last year for Cinco De Mayo (May 5th), the boxing world prepared for another major showdown. However when Canelo tested positive for traces of Clenbuterol, Alvarez withdrew from the fight, leaving Golovkin without an opponent. It was then that the boxing world was introduced to Jaime Munguia as he was mentioned as a possible replacement. The Nevada State Athletic Commission would deny Munguia of the opportunity to face the Kazakh superstar Golovkin.
"It's amazing how things change so quick and for the better. I'm happy that people already recognize me and enjoy my fighting style,"
Just a few months later thanks to Liam Smith withdrawing from his title fight vs. former champion and 2008 U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali. The door opened for Munguia, stepping in as a replacement and taking the fight for a world title. I remember thinking to myself, style wise it's just a bad fight for Ali. The morning of the fight I tweeted my prediction that Munguia would win via stoppage not going past 6 rounds. Shortly after, I received a reply from a boxing fan from Brooklyn (Sadam Ali's hometown).
"Have you ever even seen Jaime Gu Gu fight? Lets bet $100 and you can cash app me the money after. The guy has fought nothing but cab driver bums,"
Stopping Ali in 4 rounds, knocking him down four times, the 21 year old Munguia would go on to win the WBO super welterweight title. Since winning the title, Munguia has defended it twice. Winning a unanimous decision over Liam Smith in his first title defense and in his last fight stopped Brandon Cook fighting in the big stage on the under card of the Canelo Golovkin rematch.
"I was happy to be the co-main event of Canelo vs. GGG 2, and now that I'm headlining this event, I am more motivated."
Munguia now at (31-0, 26 KOs) will make his third title defense as he takes on Japan's Takeshi Inoue (13- 0-1, 7 KOs) this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas as he prepares to defend his WBO junior middleweight title.
"We are preparing very well. I feel better and more motivated than ever before. I'm stronger than ever, and I will do my best to give the best fights for the people on this new platform, DAZN." Jaime Munguia said about his upcoming fight. "I have worked hard to be in the main events like this. I think for me this is just the start. I want to make history,"
The champ is set to go as he prepared for this fight in Southern California with his respected trainer Robert Alcazar, who is best known for his work with Oscar De La Hoya, Edwin Valero, Jessie Vargas. Munguia is also under the watchful eye of his father Jaime Munguia Sr. a former heavyweight boxer.
"We had a good camp and prepared really well because it is a tough challenge. We are coming prepared to go to war," Munguia on his preparation. "I come into this fight 100 percent both physically and mentally ready,"
His opponent Inoue will be making his U.S debut as he is coming off a unanimous decision over Yuki Nonaka.
"Takeshi Inoue is a strong fighter. He comes forward a very brave fighter. He doesn't mind taking a punch in order to land one. We have to be careful with that and come very prepared. We have to be careful with his right hand as well. The guy lets his hands go. We're going to come very well prepared on Jan. 26." Munguia on his opponent Inoue.
Having signed a co-promotional deal last year with Golden Boy, and working along with his longtime promoter Zanfer Promotions, Munguia's career looks to be heading in the right direction as the plan will be to keep active with the possibility of fighting four times this year. If all goes well, Munguia will be scheduled to make a mandatory following this fight.
"After this fight, it looks like I will have a WBO mandatory bout against Dennis Hogan. But I would still like to unify the titles at 154 pounds with the other champions," Munguia said.
The other champions in the 154 pound division include WBA/IBF champion Jarrett Hurd, and newly crowned WBC champion Tony Harrison who is coming of a decision win over Jermell Charlo.
"Hurd is a very big 154-pounder. I think he's bigger than me. If a fight with him is presented to me, why not? We can unify the tittles or meet at 160 pounds." Munguia on Hurd. "Tony Harrison is a good fighter. He's tough and has good skills. If he is put in front of us-or anyone for that matter-we will have to work," Munguia added.
Just north of the 154 junior middleweight division, is the 160 pound middleweight division. Champions and names include Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Gennady "GGG" Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Billy Joe Saunders, Jermall Charlo and Rob Brant.
"The plan is to move up to 160 pounds in about a year," Munguia said. "I don't know what to say about the political situation because we are on different platforms," Munguia explained.
For now Munguia must focus on the task, Inoue.
"The fans will see a great fight and I assure you that the title stays in Mexico. I plan on giving you all a great fight and keeping my titles,"
Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMaravilla