Roadmap to the Stars: A Jaime Munguia vs. Liam Smith Preview

By Paul Magno on July 21, 2018
Roadmap to the Stars: A Jaime Munguia vs. Liam Smith Preview
HBO just may have a burgeoning star on their hands with the all-action Mexican battler.

Saturday night on HBO’s Boxing After Dark, Jaime Munguia makes the first defense of his WBO junior middleweight title against former titlist Liam Smith…

Saturday night, on HBO’s Boxing After Dark and live from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (10 PM ET/PT) Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) makes the first defense of his WBO junior middleweight title against former titlist Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs).

In the few short months that Mexico’s Munguia has been in the public eye, the 21-year-old has gone from Team Gennady Golovkin’s targeted fall guy, deemed unfit for the challenge by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, to unlikely world champ, blowing through defending 154 lb. champ Sadam Ali as a replacement for an injured Liam Smith. It’s been quite the ride.

HBO, if it plays its cards right, just may have a burgeoning star on their hands with the all-action Mexican battler if they can somehow manage to wrangle enough quality opposition to their side of the fence. In a division where Showtime/Premier Boxing Champions have most of the bankable names and all three of the other world titles, finding Munguia some star-building foes may be a tough task. Golden Boy, which has the US promotional rights to this upcoming bout, is pushing hard to become the Zanfer-signed fighter’s full-time American promoter, clearly seeing his star potential and marketability as an almost anti-Canelo of sorts—a blue collar warrior with zero pretense.

This upcoming bout with the solid and usually durable Smith will determine whether the ball gets rolling on his move towards stardom or whether all of this emotion surrounding Munguia’s emergence was an overreaction to a big win over a vulnerable champ.

Munguia is a big, energetic, and naturally strong junior welter who gets good leverage on his shots. He’s an accurate puncher as well, with good natural timing and a body attack that just may be his best offensive weapon.

The kid from Tijuana also carries around the supreme confidence of someone accustomed to walking through and pretty much blowing away everyone he’s ever faced. As a result, his defense is still very much a work in progress. He occasionally shows signs of some defensive ability, but he mostly relies on the knowledge that he can absorb anything thrown his way. That confidence, though—bordering on disrespect of his opposition’s ability to hurt him—may become a detriment as he begins to face bigger and stronger punchers. Work is definitely needed in the area of all-around defense.

The question will be whether the UK’s Smith has the kind of power or offensive prowess necessary to exploit Munguia’s defensive liabilities.

Smith fancies himself a pressure fighter of sorts, but lacks the power and physicality to truly excel in that role. Working behind a high guard, the former champ fights in bursts—and when he does throw punches, they are solid, well-put together and technically sound shots. However, they are not “big” shots by any stretch of the imagination and, overall, he throws too few, too infrequently. The Liverpudlian has a tendency to fall into passivity at times and can be overwhelmed by an aggressive opponent.

All in all, it looks as though Smith is tailor-made for Munguia as an opponent whose weaknesses feed directly into the champ’s strengths. But, keep in mind that Smith has been in the ring with Canelo Alvarez (albeit in a losing effort), in front of 50,000+ screaming Alvarez fans, and has fought at the highest levels of the domestic UK scene. Munguia, on the other hand, had only fought at the Mexican club level and never outside of his home base, until facing Ali in May.

Experience and poise, though, may not be enough of a factor in this match-up. Smith is decent, solid, but Munguia has so much more going for him.

Smith’s susceptibility to body shots and uppercuts may lead to an early end to this world title bout, likely before the ninth round.

If all goes the likely route, Munguia will have a second main stage highlight reel performance and his star will continue to rise. Decisions will then have to be made about the best way to push him towards true stardom.

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  1. Kid Blast 02:39pm, 07/19/2018

    We shall see. The element of surprise has been taken away.

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