WBO Junior Middleweight champion, Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, made his return to the ring for his fourth title defense to take on undefeated Japanese contender, Takeshi Inoue (13-1-1, 7 KOs).
Inoue, a relatively unknown name in the States, claimed to know exactly how to beat the heavy-handed Mexican. During the lead up to fight night, Inoue expressed that his gameplan to stop Munguia would include a phone booth style of constant pressure and volume punches.
Final instructions were read and Inoue charged forward immediately after the opening bell. In the opening round, Munguia found himself trying to fend off the aggressive Inoue early, but still managed to land some blows of his own. The following rounds began to follow a similar tone, with both fighters letting their hands go and trading leather.
Round 3 was a big round for the champion, Mungia. While Inoue continued to apply pressure and charge forward, Munguia back peddled and found his range landing big shots in the round.
The shots resonated all around The Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The pro-Munguia crowd cheered on the Mexican rising star, but Inoue displayed no signs of surrender, despite bombs landing by the champion. The middle-to-late rounds progressed and it was the same battle, just a different round.
The 22-year-old champion found himself having to dig deep, as the challenger never relented and chin checked Mungia throughout every round. While Inoue entered the fight an undefeated fighter, his lack of experience was a looming question and many pundits questioned if he’d have enough in his arsenal to defeat the Mexican.
In the championship rounds, Munguia tried to close the show in exciting fashion and landed power punch after power punch and somehow, Inoue stayed on his two feet and pressed forward, displaying an iron chin. In the end, the judges saw the fight as a landslide, despite the highly respectable effort from Inoue.
The final scorecards read 120-108 two times and 119-109, respectively.
“I was very surprised with his toughness,” said Munguia after the fight. “Respect to Inoue, he’s a very tough competitor but thanks to my team, we were able to find ways to neutralize him and win the fight.”
Mungia proved to be able to dig down deep and fight all 12 when needed.
Reports have surfaced of Munguia having problems making the 154-pound weight limit, something that was repeatedly mentioned by DAZN reporter Chris Mannix. When asked after the fight, Munguia admitted he sees the end of his Jr. Middleweight run coming soon after a couple more defenses after which he will move up to Middleweight.
If that does become the case, the move would make sense with the majority of the top names at 160 being under the DAZN banner of fighters. Time will tell, but for the time being, Munguia remains a threat and the WBO champion at Jr. Middleweight.