CARSON, Calif., Sept 13, 2019 – Americans might take in a baseball game on the Fourth of July holiday. On Mexican Independence Day weekend, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and fans of Mexican boxing celebrate by attending a boxing event. In the last few years, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has flown El Tricolor as the standard bearer of Mexican boxing.
But Alvarez took a pass this year due to scheduling issues, choosing instead to face light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev for a fourth division title on November 2. It now falls to WBO Junior Middleweight champion Jaime Munguia to represent the great tradition Saturday at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Munguia (33-0, 26 KOs) faces Patrick Allotey of Ghana (40-3, 30 KOs) with Munguia’s title on the line. The fight card will stream live on DAZN USA starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Golden Boy Boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya said he didn’t hesitate to tap Munguia for the assignment. “I feel very honored and happy to be represent my country on this important date,” said Munguia.
The stakes are bigger for Munguia than simply giving fans at a packed arena a pugilistic party. Munguia must show he’s still the exciting young phenom who upset Sadam Ali to win his WBO title.
Munguia found himself in a firefight against Dennis Hogan of Ireland in what was supposed to be a homecoming showcase in Monterrey, Mexico in April. Hogan had other ideas. Munguia won a narrow split decision. Many observers felt Hogan won. Munguia is fortunate the boxing world was distracted by the Lomachenko vs. Crolla fight and a major MMA card the same night, so this fight flew under the radar.
Since then, Munguia moved back to Tijuana, Mexico to train with former champion Erik “El Terrible” Morales. “It’s an honor to train the new face of Mexican boxing,” says Morales. “I’m overall satisfied to train a young boxer with a lot of desire and set on becoming one of the big names in boxing. What we’ve done is to make sure we use what he has and exploit those strengths in the ring.”
“I feel ready and I will deliver to everyone a great show worthy of September 14,” said Munguia at this week’s final news conference. “I had a great preparation, perhaps one of my best preparations. I want to thank Erik Morales for everything he’s being showing me. I hope this Saturday you see a Jaime Munguia that’s totally different. I’m ready, I’m going to come with everything. Viva Mexico!’
After fifth title defense, Jaime Munguia’s future is at middleweight
Patrick Allotey hopes to take the Dennis Hogan playbook a step further to spoil the fiesta. Coming from a nation with its own boxing tradition. In Ghana, we have great fighters. I’m very happy to become one of them,” said Allotey. “I know Munguia is a very good fighter. He has power like I do. Coming Saturday, Munguia is coming to throw his big shots. I’ll defend myself and win this bout. I am also a great fighter. I am coming to win. The best man wins.”
The 22-year-old Munguia makes his fifth title defense, and it’s likely to be his last. Munguia has reached the point where making the 154-pound weight limit is difficult, and should be moving up to middleweight.
Allotey, age 28, makes just his third appearance outside Ghana, and he’s lost all three fights. He isn’t likely to be much more than a holiday snack for Munguia. Munguia hasn’t been working long enough with Morales to show significant changes, but here’s hoping he is developing more technical skill. Expect Munguia to put on the show the Southern California fans want to see, and they’ll go home happy.
Ryan Garcia status TBA after Avery Sparrow arrested
Lightweight fan favorite Ryan Garcia of Victorville, California (18-0, 15 KOs) was scheduled to face Avery “A Plus” Sparrow of Philadelphia (10-1, 3 KOs) in a 10-round bout. Sparrow was a no-show for Friday’s weigh-in. After delaying as long as possible, Garcia got on the scale hitting 135 pounds even. He then took the stage mike and said, “Someone call him up and find out where he’s at.”
The answer: in custody. U.S. Marshals reportedly picked Sparrow up on a pre-existing warrant. Per representatives on social media, an agreement had been reached with law enforcement about the situation, but Sparrow was picked up anyway earlier in the day.
Per reports by The Athletic, Golden Boy Boxing matchmaker Eric Gomez offered to replace Sparrow with Filipino WBA Asia lightweight champion Romero Duno (20-1, 15 KOs), already scheduled for a fight on the undercard. Duno is a far more dangerous opponent than Sparrow given his knockout rate and power. Garcia reportedly turned the matchup down.
In another twist, Duno’s opponent Ivan “Striker” Delgado of Los Angeles (13-2-2, 6 KOs) blew through the weight limit by four pounds. Their fight is nevertheless still on.
Late Friday afternoon, reports surfaced via social media about another potential opponent being secured through the efforts of Garcia’s team. At press time, no replacement had been confirmed. This report will be updated to reflect the latest information.
Garcia will take heat for refusing a replacement, but he’s got the right to do so. If he doesn’t feel prepared for a different opponent who’s arguable more of a threat, he’s smart to decline. Thousands of Garcia’s fans are likely holding tickets for the card, so if the fight can be salvaged, it’s worth the effort. There are a lot of hard feelings on Friday, but let’s hope by Saturday the young Mexican-American propsect will see fit to show up and at least meet and greet his fans.
Garcia is another young fighter in the Golden Boy stable who sees himself inheriting Canelo’s crown. He shares a trainer in Eddy Reynoso, and has amassed a fervent fan base and an impressive social media following. It’s a double-edged sword making him a target of criticism, and Garcia insists he’s more than a pretty Instagram face.
“I know there’s a lot of pressure on me, a lot of hype,” said Garcia. “The only thing I look to do is become the best fighter I can be.”
Diva War: Franchon Crews-Dezurn and Maricela Cornejo in last minute rematch
The women’s championship fight on the card is now elevated to the co-main event. There was another last-minute substitution for this fight, but fortunately a fight came together. It’s arguably an even more intriguing matchup.
Golden Boy exec and former champion Bernard Hopkins called the title fight originally scheduled between WBC super middleweight champion Franchon “The Heavy Hitting Diva” Crews-Dezurn (5-1, 2 KOs) and mandatory challenger Alejandra Jimenez of Mexico (12-0-1, 8 KOs) the best fight on the card.
Due to visa problems, promoters announced Jimenez could not make it to the U.S. in time for the bout before Friday’s weigh-in.
Stepping in for Jimenez is former titleholder Maricela Cornejo of Los Angeles (13-3, 5 KOs). Crews-Dezurn defeated Cornejo for the title one year ago Friday. It made for a tense weigh-in, with both women making it under the 168 pound limit.
“I’m grateful to fight on such a meaningful day as Mexican Independence Day for another round at the world title,” said Cornejo. “It has only been a two-day notice and after getting back from vacation last week, but I never stopped training. Prior to leaving I was scheduled for a fight, but unfortunately or fortunately things didn’t work out with that fight and it didn’t happen.
“I knew something was around the corner because God never takes and doesn’t give bigger or better than what he took.” Cornejo’s last bout was in January, an eight round decision over Erin Toughhill.
The champion made her attitude clear, “It’s a war,” said Crews-Dezurn. “Nobody is taking shit from me.”
Since being signed with Golden Boy after representing herself in her early fights, Crews-Dezurn is coming on strong and making the most of her opportunity.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store … To have the opportunity to defend my title and get to present myself to the world as a champion in boxing and in life, is a highlight. Everybody’s talking about how big and strong my opponent is, but my heart and my intellect is going to be bigger. I’m the people’s champ, having them behind me. You’re going to see one of the best versions of me.”
The Baltimore native gave it her best shot in Spanish, saying “I know how important Dia de la Independencia is, and I respect it. So just know, I’m not coming to play, I’m coming to slay. I’m coming to entertain. I made my own outfit, I made my own boxing attire. Get ready for a show!” Credit again to Cornejo for going for it, but Crews-Dezurn is gaining speed with every fight, and the multi-talented athlete/artist/entrepreneur isn’t going to waste this opportunity.
Boxing fans might be disappointed at the lack of a marquee fight for boxing’s self-selected holiday. As Bernard Hopkins said at Thursday’s final news conference, “There are champions and wanna-be champions. Understand, this is what boxing is all about. Whether they are starting, at a level before the top level, or already there. Let’s enjoy the moment and see these stars become superstars.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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