San Diego, Calif., January 25, 2019 – Among the ambitious young boxers hoping to be the heir apparent to Mexican star Canelo Alvarez, super welterweight Jaime Munguia has the inside track. The 22-year-old isn’t a star of the future; he’s become a star today. Munguia (32-0. 27 KOs) kicks off his 2019 campaign in the main event Saturday defending his WBO junior middleweight title against Takeshi Inoue of Japan (13-0-1, 7 KOs).
The card takes place at the Toyota Center in Houston, and will be live streamed on the DAZN platform. A free one-month trial is available; cost is $9.99/month afterward. The fighters made the junior middleweight limit at 153.2 for Munguia, and 153.6 for Inoue.
While the young champion still has a few rough edges, the Tijuana native now training in Southern California is working with Robert Alcazar. Alcazar also trained Oscar de la Hoya, presenting promoter of Munguia in association with Zanfer Promotions of Mexico.
Munguia is coming off a third round TKO beatdown of Brandon Cook of Canada in September on the Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 undercard. Cook was game, but overwhelmed from the opening bell. Nothing was going to stop Munguia.
Munguia expects tougher test against Inoue
Munguia expects a tougher test against Inoue, who is fighting in the U.S. for the first time and presents something of an unknown. He hasn’t faced a serious contender, unlike Munguia who has defeated both Sadam Ali and Liam Smith. Munguia isn’t making the mistake of taking Inoue lightly.
“There isn’t a lot that we know about him. There’s not a lot of material available for us to study. We struggle to do this,” said Munguia after the weigh-in. “We’re going to use all that we’ve done in our boxing career to do what we need to do in the ring, and be ready for what comes.”
Munguia said he’s worked hard to get into the main event. “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,” added Munguia.
Munguia said he knows Inoue is typical of the Japanese fighting style, coming forward and willing to take a punch to land one. As for Inoue, he said Friday of his title fight opportunity, “This is the reason why I started boxing, to have this fight.”
Fight prediction: Munguia will mow down Inoue
Inoue will be better prepared than Munguia’s last opponent, and he will give his best. But there’s little doubt absent a surprise that Munguia should prevail. Don’t expect Inoue to hear the final bell after 12 rounds.
Next, assuming a victory, Munguia hopes to unify titles at junior middleweight, but doesn’t plan to stay in the division too much longer. Recall that Munguia was proposed as an opponent for Gennady Golovkin last May, but prevented from getting in the ring by the California State Athletic Commission.
He acknowledged a likely mandatory fight against Dennis Hogan should he win on Saturday. “I would still like to unify the titles at 154 pounds with the other champions. We will resolve anything that is put in front of us,” said Munguia.
Middleweight division is calling Munguia
“The plan is to move up to 160 pounds in about a year. We’re fine making weight now. I have no problems, but I feel I can move up and fight in other divisions. My body is such that I could even go up to 168 pounds. Munguia is aware Jermell Charlo and Jarrett Hurd have both aimed at him.
“I’ve heard the things they’ve said about me. Maybe they don’t respect me or think I’m too young. They’ve said a lot. I will make them respect me on the day they step in the ring with me,” said Munguia.
But the clock could tick past both Charlo and Hurd if the middleweight division comes calling. Might there be a fight against Alvarez? “I don’t think there is any pressure with being mentioned with names like Canelo and Golovkin. I like this. It’s fun. I’m happy to be in fights like this and to see that we are advancing. So, the truth is we are happy.
“I am conscious of what I am doing. I think I can move up to 160 pounds and fight any of the two. It’s a risk because there will always be risks. Those are the two best fighters in the world. We would have to be very careful and come very well prepared. I don’t think it would happen soon, so we have to see what the future holds for us.”
On Saturday, Munguia says his focus is the fans, “I do it for all my Mexican people. I’m from them, I belong to them. It’s because of them, that I can eat. So I I do it to make them proud and I become a Mexican legend for these fans, one of the best.”
Munguia is a classic body puncher, and against Cook in September his thudding shots could be heard across the entire T-Mobile Arena. He also mixed in powerful hooks to the head, and it was only a matter of time for Cook. Expect more of the same against Inoue.
Undercard action in Houston: Rojas vs Xu and Ortiz vs Barrayan
On the undercard, Jesus Rojas of Puerto Rico (26-2-2, 19 KOs) takes on Can “Monster” Xu of China (15-2, 2 KOs) for a WBA ‘regular’ featherweight title. Rojas is coming off a loss to Joseph Diaz Jr. last August, but kept his title as Diaz Jr. failed to make the 126 pound featherweight limit. Rojas declared himself much improved and ready to show it Saturday. Xu is fighting in the U.S. for the second time after a split decision win in September. Currently ranked second in the WBA, he hopes to get a mandatory challenger spot against one of the division’s major champions such as Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, or Oscar Valdez. Xu will have to show something special to be worthy of a major step up.
Saturday’s scene-stealer could be Texas native Vergil Ortiz Jr. of Dallas (11-0, 11 KOs), fighting Jesus Valdez Barrayan of Sonora, Mexico (24-4-1, 12 KOs). To date, Ortiz has mowed down his limited opposition, never going more than three rounds and ending more than half his fights in the first round. Like Munguia, the 20-year-old Ortiz Jr. is the real thing in the ring, and destined for an outstanding career if he stays in power punching form.
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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