For Jaime Munguia, not all fights will be as easy as his three-round destruction of Sadam Ali in May.
The 21-year-old learned this against Liam “Beefy” Smith in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 21, overcoming the savvy Brit in a unanimous-decision victory. With scorecards of 116-111, 119-110 and 119-108, Munguia retained his WBO Super Welterweight title.
At times, it looked as though Smith wouldn’t last 12 rounds against the heavy-handed Munguia. A huge left hook found Smith’s temple in Round 6, causing him to take a knee.
A veteran of 29 fights, Smith bent but never broke; throwing a persistent jab in Munguia’s face and walking through many of Munguia’s power punches.
A pick ’em round opened the fight, with each fighter feeling the other out. Munguia’s plodding style and subpar defense looked as though it’d become a major factor in the fight, but by Round 3 the Mexican had found a consistent home for his thudding left and right hooks.
Smith never quite recovered from the sixth-round knockdown, increasingly losing agility as the fight proceeded. After a resurgent Round 8 for Smith, Munguia continued pummeling him in the ninth, paving the way for a wide decision.
“He is strong,” Munguia admitted after the fight. “There were times where I really landed punches, which really backed him up. He’s very strong and can take a punch, so I have no excuses. I was always looking for the knockout. I always looked for the fight, and I went in there like a true Mexican. I think going these 12 rounds will serve me as experience.”
Munguia entered the ring with the toughest opponent of his career and will reap the rewards for an exciting win over a proven veteran. Munguia, who was infamously rejected by the NSAC as a short-notice opponent for Gennady Golovkin, proved his worth against a former opponent of Canelo Alvarez.
While he’s a player for a number of glamour fights in the middleweight division, Jarrett Hurd comes to mind as a potential opponent to match Munguia with. Hurd holds the IBF, WBA, and IBO titles, and would likely be favored in a unification bout against Munguia.
Neither are scheduled for upcoming fights, and with a win over the battle-tested Smith, critics can no longer claim Munguia doesn’t belong in the ring with the best that the 154-pound division had to offer.
In the midst of a 4-0 2018 campaign—including two showcase performances on HBO—the 21-year-old Munguia is in the driver’s seat of the Junior Middleweight division.
Photos by Ed Mulholland/HBO