It wasn’t the combustible, explosive, awe inspiring performance we witnessed in his title winning effort vs. Sadam Ali, but Saturday, July 21st could benefit Jaime Munguia in the long run. HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” televised his next step in the quest to become a certifiable fistic Mexican superstar, versus former champion Liam “Beefy” Smith. 12 rounds later, Munguia exhibited intangible qualities required of such a lofty perch, if not the anticipated “Wow” factor that instantly jumps out at you.
Acutely aware he was heavily favored to get his ass kicked, Smith (26-2-1, 14 KO’s) was intent on earning respect from the opening bell. Behind an earmuff guard, “Beefy” countered Munguia’s jabs/rushes and banged his body with left hooks. Every time Munguia fired a jab, Bam! Counter right cross over the top and hooks downstairs. A third of the way into the affair, Smith appeared to be ahead 3 rounds to 1, all attributed to the aforementioned tactics.
Swollen under his left eye and probably down on the scorecards, Munguia (30-0, 25 KO’s) started showing the grit, the determination, the never say die attitude of the Mexican warrior he strives to be. He punched his way out of clinches, stubbornly trudged forward, firing hard shots, gesturing and talking to Smith as he dug hooks to his body and crosses to the head. Smith was still able to land shots of his own, but Munguia was unfazed, walking thru them with no consideration whatsoever. He landed a clean right cross and another hook to the torso, much to the delight of the predominantly Mexican crowd. Munguia had just rewarded them with an impassioned, momentum stealing round ripe with machismo. This wasn’t Ricardo Mayorga sticking his chin out, daring an opponent to hit him, but it was in the neighborhood.
In the 6th, a left-right uppercut and meaty left hook counter knocked “Beefy” backwards and down to a knee. Smith actually landed a two-punch combo of his own first, but Munguia ignored it and dropped him in response. When the action resumed, Munguia connected with a nice right hook, but it was too late in the round to take advantage. Just like that, Munguia was in control; an advantage he wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the contest. His youth, unceasing pressure and volume punching carried the 2nd half, making the final verdict academic. 116-111, 117-110 and 119-108, all for the defending champion.
At the end of the day, what was learned is the truth about Jaime Munguia is somewhere in the middle. No, it’s not time to anoint him, but it’d be even more foolish to write him off after a unanimous decision win over a former world champion. He’s just 21 and this was the first time Robert Alcazar was chief second in the corner.
Golden Boy should be thankful Munguia wasn’t approved as a replacement opponent for Canelo Alvarez vs. Triple G, Cinco de Mayo. Given the glaring, Antonio Margarito-like defense Munguia showed vs. Smith, he was destined for a knockout loss against Golovkin. It’s premature to handicap Munguia vs. Canelo as well, who by his own admission is still green and in need of seasoning. Instead of immediate unification, Team Munguia and Golden Boy Promotions should seek mandatory title defenses; there’s no rush with this kid. A Julian “J-Rock’ Williams type of opponent would be a good litmus test to end 2018 with.