On Saturday, January 26, 2019, WBO Jr. Middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs) went up against a tougher-than-expected challenger in Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7 KOs), winning a hard-fought unanimous decision.
The relatively unknown and previously unbeaten Inoue left it all in the ring, relentlessly coming at Munguia for the better part of 12 rounds as he tried to rattle the young Mexican champ.
From a pro-Munguia perspective, the positive thing is that he was able to weather the storm and come out victorious. He called the fight a learning experience and wants to continue to get better in crucial areas.
“I will keep working on using my distance,” said Munguia. “There were times where he was able to cut the distance, and I want to work on that.”
Aside from distance, Munguia’s defensive holes still pose a big problem for him. If Inoue was a bigger puncher, the shots he was hitting Munguia with on Saturday night could have put him out. This is similar to what we noticed after the Liam Smith fight–Munguia getting hit cleanly too often.
Munguia still seems to be learning how to box, use distance and really put all his abilities together when a single power punch doesn’t change the course of the fight like it has so many times before–most notably against the much smaller, former WBO titleholder, Sadam Ali.
Munguia turned pro at 16 and he’s only 22 years old right now, which means he’s still young and understandably pretty raw. So by all means this isn’t an article on the Tijuana native being a bust or all hype–it’s just that he is absolutely not ready for the upper echelon of the division who have already been battle tested.
It would be hard to bet against Jarrett Hurd, Erislandy Lara or even Jermell Charlo if they were put in front of Munguia at this moment. Munguia has a legendary coach in Robert Alcazar in his corner, so as long as Munguia is not drunk off the “Munguia is the best 154-pound fighter in the world” headlines, we should see measured improvement in his next few fights when it comes to defense and distance.
If Golden Boy Promotions is smart, they’ll let Munguia develop more outside of the headlining spotlight. There really isn’t a need for him, at 22 years of age, to be the top bill on cards against the Takeshi Inoue’s of the world. And there really isn’t any reason to entertain the notion of moving up to 160 at this point (unless the weight is really that big of any issue) to face established fighters like Canelo Alvarez and Demetrius Andrade.
Perhaps I’m wrong on this one, but rushing a young and talented guy always reminds me of one of my favorite fighters of all time–Fernando Vargas. The worst thing you want to see is the story become, “what could have been of Jaime Munguia.”