WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) says his goal is to knockout mandatory challenger Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) this month on July 21 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Munguia’s trainer Robert Alcazar wants him to knockout the 29-year-old Smith before the 9th round. If Munguia does what his trainer is hoping he’ll do to Smith, we could have a new star in the 154 lb. weight division.
Two years ago, Saul Canelo Alvarez stopped Smith in the 9th round. If Munguia can KO Smith quicker than Canelo did, it would be a nice feather in his cap. It would show that Munguia is among the elites in the sport if he can destroy Smith faster than Canelo did. The 21-year-old Munguia surprised a lot boxing fans with his 4th round knockout victory over Sadam Ali on May 12. Munguia didn’t get the credit that he should have for that fight because Ali only recently moved up to junior middleweight from the 147 lb. weight class.
Canelo had a lot of problems with Smith in the first four rounds in their fight in 2016. Smith’s work rate and punching power had Canelo fighting off the ropes, looking tired. If not for Smith running out of gas himself, we might have seen a different outcome in that fight.
”What I want to see against this fighter [Liam Smith] is that Jaime stops him before the 9th,” Munguia’s trainer Robert Alcazar said to Villian Fy. ”That fighter has one loss, and that’s against Canelo, who stopped him in the 9th round, so I would like to see him Jaime stop him before the 9th round. I know Jaime can stop him at any moment from the first round to the first half of the fight. Jaime will stop him. So that’s what I would like to see in the fight.”
Smith has respectable punching power and a good chin. He can take a decent punch. However, Canelo Alvarez’s power was too much for Smith, as he was knocked down three times in the fight after he faded in the second of the contest. Smith was able to handle Canelo’s punching power in the first six rounds. It wasn’t until Smith suffered a cut in the 5th round and gassed out that Canelo took over the fight. Of course, Canelo was fighting largely with one hand after he suffered a fractured right thumb early on in the fight. A healthy Canelo probably would have stopped Smith a lot faster than he did. Canelo was able to hurt Smith continually with left hooks from the 7th round.
”That’s the fight in which they’ll compare and measure me with the elite level through Liam Smith,” Munguia said to Villian Fy. ”So I have to give my best effort and look really good. I do agree with Golovkin and the percentage that he’s entitled to. I want to clear this up for the people that say that I called out Canelo and called out Golovkin. The truth is, I didn’t. Those are just comments that people like adding. What I did say is I want to fight one of them at some point or he best one in the division at some point in time. But I never called either of them out. But I believe I’ll be ready next year. Even if I wanted to do it this year, I know it wouldn’t be possible to fight one of them. But I do believe in the next year or two, I’ll be ready,” Munguia said.
Munguia should focus on proving himself against the best fighters in the 154lb. weight class before he tries to get a fight against Gennady Golovkin and Saul Canelo Alvarez. It makes no sense for Munguia to be talking about wanting to fight GGG and Canelo in 2019 or 2020 if he hasn’t yet fought the top guys at 154 like IBF/WBA junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd, Kell Brook, Erislandy Lara and WBC champion Jermell Charlo. Those are the best fighters in the 154 lb. weight class today. Liam Smith is not the best, even though Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya tried to justify matching Canelo against him in 2016 by saying that he’s the best fighter in the 154lb weight class. The truth is Smith is not even close to being the best fighter in the division.
At best, Smith is bottom 10 in the division, and at worst, he’s bottom 20. Munguia has got to take care of Smith because this is a gatekeeper type of opponent. The World Boxing Organization has Smith rated No.1 with their organization, but that’s just them. Smith is NOT ranked highly by the other sanctioning bodies. The WBC has Smith ranked No.10, which is a very kind ranking because he doesn’t look like he belongs at that spot. Munguia needs to make sure he doesn’t give Smith too much respect on July 21 because this is a guy that he should be able to take out quickly if he goes after him with pressure and power early in their fight. Smith will fall apart just as easy as he did against Canelo because Munguia is a bigger puncher than the red-headed star.
“I want to tell him I’m a natural 160 pound fighter, who comes down to 154 lbs. because of the title,” Munguia said about Liam Smith. “I’m a natural 160 lb. fighter, and it does cost me a bit to make weight. But all I have to do is be careful to take care of my body and make weight. It’s not my fault that Sadam Ali was a welterweight and moved to super welterweight,” Munguia said about Sadam.
Munguia isn’t the only one that is a natural middleweight. Smith is also a natural middleweight as well, considering that he rehydrates into the low 170s just like Golovkin does. Like a lot of fighters in the 154lb weight class, Smith chooses to melt down to 154 in order to fight below his natural weight against guys that lack the size and punching power that fighters possess in the 160 lb. weight class. As such, Munguia isn’t going to squash Smith as easily as he did welterweight Sadam Ali last May. The 5’11” Munguia will need to depend on his huge punching power more to take the 5’9” Smith out rather than depending on his size to beat him. This fight could be over with quickly if Smith goes into his shell and looking to block shots the way he did in his fights against Liam Williams and John Thompson. Smith also won’t be able to just open up with his offense the way he wants to without taking a major risk of getting clipped with one of the big power shots from Munguia. Smith is going to need to be on his guard at all times if he doesn’t want to leave himself open to one of Munguia’s counters. The punching power of Munguia is going to force Smith to fight a lot more defensively than he normally is. Smith lucked out in his two fights with Liam Williams when he ran out of gas and was cut. If Munguia doesn’t suffer a similar fight-ending cut, it’s going to be a real problem for Smith to be able to go the distance with him.
Munguia openly admits that he’s a middleweight, who boils down to 154 to fight smaller guys. He’s still young enough to make the 154lb. weight limit without it hurting himself in the process. Just how much longer Munguia can continue to make weight at junior middleweight is the big question. Canelo was able to boil down from the 170s to 154 until he was 25-years-old. It’s possible that
“It doesn’t interest me if he’s a super welterweight or a middleweight,” Munguia said about Liam Smith. “I’m coming with the mentality to win and I do have great respect for him, but God willing, I’m going to win this fight. I want to invite everyone to a great boxing fight, a good fight between me and Liam Smith,” Munguia said.
Munguia has a chance to turn himself into a big name overnight if he dispatches Smith in lightning fashion. If Munguia wins this fight like he did in beating Sadam Ali, he’s going to have the boxing world talking about him and viewing him as a major player in the junior middleweight division. Smith is a tricky fighter though, and it won’t be easy unless Munguia can connect with his shots. Smith will likely cover up and try and wait Munguia out until he tires out before he opens up with his own shots.
”I have seen him fight, and I saw qualities,” Munguia said about Smith. ”He has speed and he can take a punch and he hits hard. So like I’ve always said, I’m going to go look for a knockout. I know it can come on it’s own. But if you look for it, it can come faster, right? This is just the beginning. I’m only 21. There’s no reason for me to change just because I’m world champion now,” said Munguia.
Smith doesn’t have a lot of hand speed. Munguia is wrong about that. Smith isn’t slow, but he’s not fast of hand. He has decent punching power, but not great. Smith’s knockout percentage if only 50%, and that’s with him mostly facing weak opposition during his 10-year pro career. If Smith had good punching power, he’d have a far better KO percentage than 50. Munguia can KO Smith early if he goes after him in the same way he did with Sadam Ali.
”God willing, we come out with our hand raised in front of Liam Smith,” Munguia said. ”We would like to make another defense back a home in Tijuana. I want to close out the year with a fight in Tijuana, my people. We have this mandatory with Liam Smith, and we’re going to give our all, but God willing, we’re going to win.”
If Munguia can get past Smith, hopefully he faces a good opponent for his fight in Tijuana because hes not going to increase his popularity facing weak opposition picked out from the bottom of the WBO’s top 15 ranking. Smith is a weak enough opponent for that to be considered a tune-up level fight for Munguia. He needs to fight someone better than that like Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams, Kell Brook or Tony Harrison. Erislandy Lara would be a good option.
”Unfortunately, he had a problem with Clenbuterol tainted beef, and I feel he’s lost a lot of credibility,” Munguia said about Canelo. ”But I believe if he gives it his all, he can get his credibility back in front of the people on September 15th. I believe right now pound-for-pound is Gennady Golovkin, but his time has passed. With all due respect, he’s 37 and he’s on his way out. Canelo is more of a possibility to be pound-for-pound best, and if not, I feel it’s Lomachenko. Truthfully, I don’t know how Canelo will return because of the inactivity he’s had. I believe he’s been out for more than a year. I believe it will,” Munguia said when asked if the one-year of inactivity will negatively impact Canelo’s game against Golovkin on September 15. ”It can affect him, but I hope it doesn’t, and like I said, Golovkin is older than Canelo. So, Canelo is more probable to work on his rhythm to improve his boxing more than Golovkin,” Munguia said.
Canelo’s year out of the ring certainly won’t help him against GGG on September 15. Canelo will have been out of the ring for 12 months by the time he enters the ring to fight GGG. Moreover, Canelo is coming off of knee surgery, and that’s not a positive. It’s not a good thing that Canelo is returning from knee surgery and a 12 month layoff to fight GGG. However, Canelo only has himself to blame for being out of the ring for 12 months, as he’s the one that insisted on resting up until May 5th before agreeing to fight GGG in a rematch. Golovkin wanted to fight Canelo in a rematch last December, but he didn’t want to take the fight then. he wanted to rest up and recover from his fight for eight months, even though he didn’t take a lot of punishment in their fight due to his movement and his defensive focus to the fight.
Munguia is way off in saying that Canelo is a future pound-for-pound number 1. That’s clearly not going to happen. Canelo is too short at 5’8” to dominate at 160 like he was doing when he fought at welterweight many years ago. Even at 154, Canelo wasn’t dominating his opponents. His wins over
Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara were both controversial to say the least. At 160, Canelo is out of his league due to his lack of size.
Golovkin is 36, not 37, as Munguia said. Few boxing fans will say that Golovkin’s time has passed. The way that he dealt with Canelo, a fighter in his prime at 27, suggests that Golovkin is still very much in his prime. The only thing that could prevent Golovkin continuing on is the smaller paydays he would get fighting the other top fighters in the middleweight division. Once Golovkin is finished fighting Canelo two or three times, his paydays will drop off when he faces the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, Jermall Charlo, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Daniel Jacobs, Demetrius Andrade and Ryota Murata. The only guy out of the bunch that GGG can make money fighting is Murata. The rest of them are small pays.