By Jake Donovan
If nothing else, Jaime Munguia managed to get a mandatory challenge out of the way and can now start thinking about his future—one that could very well come six pounds north.
The unbeaten rising star from Tijuana, Mexico lodged the fourth defense of his super welterweight title, albeit in a controversial majority decision over Dennis Hogan in their 12-round affair Saturday evening at Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.
Scores were 114-114 even, 115-113 and 116-112 in favor of Munguia in their DAZN-streamed main event.
“Honestly, once the fight ended I thought it was going to end in a draw,” Munguia said after what was easily the toughest fight of his still young career.
Hogan (28-2-1, 7KOs) enjoyed as favorable a start as could have been hoped for by the visiting mandatory challenger. Munguia struggled to unearth his offense or even figure out how to cut off the ring, which Hogan—a 34-year old Irishman fighting out of Australia—exploited nearly to perfection.
Constant lateral movement allowed Hogan to avoid the incoming, a tactic which clearly frustrated Munguia who seemed to fall behind after two rounds.
Action picked up in round three, although it was Hogan who was first to the punch.
An overhand right caught Munguia by surprise, with Hogan attempting to smother his foe which led to questionable tactics from both boxers.
“He would hit me, he would headbutt me, hit me with low blows,” Munguia insisted. “I just never got into a rhythm, but it comes down to my preparation for this fight.”
Munguia settled down, scoring right hands at different points in the ring, with his challenger laughing off the shots but his punch output dramatically decreasing.
Round five was Munguia’s truly first big one of the fight, unloading with power shots and successfully cornering Hogan to mount a sustained offensive attack. The challenger remained game, smiling not to mask pain but in his continued best efforts to taunt the house favorite.
It worked to a degree, as any momentum Munguia sought to gain was squandered by lapses in focus and an inability to keep his chin tucked. Even in enjoying a relatively dominant round seven, the frame ended with Hogan catching the defending titlist with an overhand right.
What should’ve been an isolated moment instead proved to carry over into the later rounds. A sense of urgency overcame Munguia’s corner, with head trainer Robert Alcazar begging his charge to pick up the pace and begin banking rounds in far more dominant fashion.
Hogan wasn’t having any of it, enjoying a decisive 10th round with constant in and out movement which clearly frustrated Munguia.
“You saw what my game plan was tonight,” Hogan told DAZN’s Chris Mannix. “It was to keep moving, and land power shots. I was rolling with the punches. He’s a great fighter but he knew he was losing. He was acting desperate and not throwing punches with confidence. We were so comfortable in there.”
Right hand shots continued to find their way to the wide-open chin of the defending titlist, none bigger than the one which buckled his knees at the start of round eleven.
Munguia continued to come forward, hoping to pin down Hogan long enough to land a big shot of his own. That moment just didn’t come, with a mix of fatigue and frustration evident on his face and in his attempted offensive attack.
“I learned a lot about fighting through frustration,” Munguia admitted. “It was similar to what happened in my last fight. I was also a bit fatigued. Making weight could have contributed to that.”
The threat of a massive upset carried into the 12th and final round, with Munguia fighting with a sense of urgency during the entire three-minute frame. Chants of “Me-Xi-Co” filled the sold-out arena in hopes of inspiring the young champion.
Instead, it was Hogan who was fueled with motivation down the stretch. Munguia’s come-forward style only left him open for Hogan’s right hands, although he landed enough of his own to perhaps win the round.
It turned out to be just enough to win the fight, even if his opponent greatly disagreed.
“I’m so disappointed with what happened,” said Hogan of coming up just short in his first career title fight. “We came here in good faith… this is bad for boxing, it’s bad for me and no question we want a rematch straight away.”
That’s highly unlikely to happen—as is any other fight for Munguia at super welterweight.
The still growing boxer improves to 33-0 (26KOs) with the win, his eighth inside of just 16 months. The 22-year old has already crammed five title fights in an 11-month span, but might need to take a step back, even if just to figure out what’s next.
“We will have to have that discussion with Zanfer Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions and decide what’s best for my future,” noted Munguia, who has eyed a middleweight run.
It may have to come out of necessity, but nothing about Saturday’s win nor his hard-fought 12-round war with Takeshi Inoue this past January suggests much success six pounds north. The rest of the best super welterweights all fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) umbrella, whereas DAZN is flush with lucrative middleweight options.
At present moment, Munguia being thrown into the middleweight mix doesn’t figure to end very well. By getting his mandatory title challenge out of the way, though, time—along with youth—is at least on his side.
Luckily on this night, so too were two of the three judges in preserving his title reign and unbeaten record.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox