By Jake Donovan

This time one year ago, Jaime Munguia was stuck in an awkward phase of his career.

The 6’0” super welterweight drew early accolades to where his rise from prospect to contender warranted attention. At the same time, he remained obscure enough for the Nevada State Athletic Commission to dismiss him as a worthy challenger to then-unbeaten middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.

It’s anybody’s guess as to how that fight—and his career—would’ve played out had they clashed last May. Ultimately, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“Look, I never go looking for fights. My team lets me know I have a fight coming up and I take care of the rest in the ring,” Munguia (31-0, 26KOs) explained to of his overall career arc. “When (Zanfer Promotions) told me that I was fighting Golovkin, I was excited for the opportunity.

“When they came back and told me it was happening and why, it just made me work that much harder in the gym and focus on what was really next.”

A consolation prize came in the form of a crack at Sadam Ali, who at the time was a super welterweight titlist in need of a challenger for an HBO date last May. His originally scheduled foe, Liam Smith fell out due to injury, which paved the way for Munguia to vie for his first major title.

He didn't just walk through the open door but kicked it down in annihilating the Brooklyn-based boxer in five rounds to violently snatch the 154-pound title. Two successful defenses would follow, all within the next four months and still shy of his 22nd birthday which came last October.

Munguia now makes the third defense of his super welterweight strap, when he faces unbeaten challenger Takeshi Inoue this weekend in Houston, Texas (Saturday, DAZN, 9:00pm ET/8:00pm local).

“It’s been exciting to face the competition my team has put me in against in the past year,” Munguia admits. “From winning the title, to defending it and now appearing on a new platform (DAZN), it’s very encouraging and motivates me to continue to improve.”

Saturday’s bout will be Munguia’s first on DAZN, as well as his first since entering a multi-fight co-promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions. His first challenger in that agreement is in the same position he was a year ago—unbeaten, but largely unknown to the boxing public outside of his native Japan.

“I never take an opponent for granted, and (Inoue) is looking to accomplish what I was able to do in the same place last year,” Munguia notes. “I am looking forward to a very big year, beginning on a new platform that—like myself—represents the future of boxing.”

It’s already a remarkable journey from where he just was in the not-too-distant past.