Jaime Munguia is ready for the next step in his middleweight journey, though not the leap previously anticipated by his handlers.

Talks regarding a potential showdown with two-time and reigning IBF middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs) remain open yet appear less likely to be next for the unbeaten former junior middleweight titlist. There instead exists a more likely chance for Munguia to instead shift his attention towards a springtime return, likely to take place within the first two weeks of April against an opponent to further ready him for the top level, co-promoter Zanfer Promotions informs BoxingScene.com.

Unbeaten middleweight contender Kanat Islam (27-0, 21KOs) has been loosely mentioned as a potential foe, with the intention of facing a top ranked middleweight contender. A final opponent has not been determined as this goes to publish, with talks ongoing with Islam and at least one other ranked middleweight. A showdown with Golovkin remains the preference, however, with the fight to air on DAZN if the two sides can cross the finish line.

Munguia (36-0, 29KOs) will fight for the third time as a middleweight since officially abandoning his WBO junior middleweight title reign at the end of 2019. A pair of stoppage wins have since followed over veteran contenders Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and Tureano Johnson, both taking place in 2020.

The unbeaten Tijuana native saw his name attached to a potential title fight in a second weight division shortly after Golovkin dismantled unbeaten mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta inside of seven rounds last December at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The win was Golovkin’s first defense of his second tour as a middleweight titlist, with attention immediately shifting towards a springtime showdown with Munguia.

Oscar de la Hoya, founder and chairman of Golden Boy Promotions—who co-promotes Munguia along with Zanfer Promotions—spoke candidly of eyeing a Cinco de Mayo themed event for the occasion. Such efforts will instead have to be placed in a potential showdown closer to Mexican Independence Day, as the two will head in separate directions at least for their next fight.

Munguia managed five successful defenses of his WBO junior middleweight title. His entire reign spanned just 16 months from his title-winning 4th round stoppage of Sadam Ali in May 2018 to a one-sided stoppage win over Patrick Allotey in Sept. 2018, in celebration of Mexican Independence Day.

Interestingly, his title challenge of Ali came about only after Munguia was rejected as a replacement opponent to face then-unbeaten Golovkin in a May 2018 unified middleweight title fight. Munguia was prepared to replace countryman Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs), who tested positive for Clenbuterol which killed plans for a Cinco de Mayo 2018 rematch with Golovkin.

The proposed bout between Golovkin and Munguia was rejected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who deemed Munguia—just 21 and an unproven contender at the time—unfit to challenge an elite pound-for-pound entrant and long-reigning middleweight titlist.

Golovkin took his act to Southern California where he slaughtered Vanes Martirosyan inside of two rounds, while Munguia raised his profile with the aforementioned win over Ali. Golovkin’s reign ended in his next fight, dropping a 12-round majority decision to Alvarez in their Sept. 2018 rematch. Less than 13 months later began his second reign, barely outlasting Sergiy Derevyanchenko in their Oct. 2019 vacant title fight which was recognized by BoxingScene.com as the 2019 Fight of the Year.

For now, a fight between Golovkin and Munguia appears less likely to be in the cards for their immediate future. Wins by both in their next bouts could still lead to such an encounter, although the preference remains a head-on collision. 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox