Jaime Munguia has a new opponent—and a new fight date with the switch.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, D'Mitrius Ballard has answered the call to face the unbeaten former WBO junior middleweight titlist on short notice. The bout was formally approved by DAZN brass and announced by Golden Boy Promotions, though now due to take April 23— one day earlier to Munguia’s previously scheduled ring return.
The event will still air live on DAZN from Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, with a new televised start time of 9:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. local.
Ballard replaces Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (29-2, 11KOs) who was forced to withdraw from the bout due to an injury reportedly suffered at the start of training camp.
“D’Mitrius Ballard has been deserving of an opportunity like this for a while now,” Oscar De La Hoya, chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions said of Ballard stepping in to save the show. “This is the chance to finally demonstrate to the world that he’s ready for the top guys in the division.
“We wish Maciej Sulecki a quick recovery, but we also we want to emphasize that Ballard is no mere replacement. He’s a real threat.”
The bout marks the first for Ballard (20-0-1, 13KOs) since a 10-round draw with Yamaguchi Falcao back in Dec. 2019. The stalemate capped a frustrating 2019 campaign for the now 28-year-old from the D.C. suburb of Temple Hills, Maryland who six months prior saw his middleweight clash with Mexico’s Elias Espadas ended inside of three rounds due to a clash of heads leaving his opponent cut and unable to continue.
Still, the fighting style of Ballard potentially poses more of a threat than what Munguia expected to face. That is certainly the mindset the new opponent will carry into the ring.
“I feel very fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to fight against Jaime Munguia,” stated Ballard. “I feel extremely blessed especially because of the condition the world is now in with COVID-19 and all the issues we are facing. This is the perfect opportunity to really showcase who D’Mitrius Ballard is and demonstrate my boxing abilities. I’m going to use this fight to re-introduce myself to the world.”
Munguia is just happy to keep the fight date.
It will mark his sixth straight as a DAZN headliner, dating back to his platform debut in a 12-round unanimous decision win over undefeated challenger Takeshi Inoue in Jan. 2019. The bout came part of a hectic run that saw the Tijuana native cram six WBO junior middleweight title fights into a 16-month period before vacating the belt in late 2019 to campaign as a middleweight.
Two wins have followed since moving up, both inside the distance. Munguia stopped Ireland’s Gary Spike O’Sullivan in the 11th round of their Jan. 2020 headliner in San Antonio. The 24-year-old returned on the other side of the pandemic to score a 7th round stoppage of Bahama’s Tureano Johnson last October in Indio, California.
The hope was to face a title-level contender for his next outing, with the intention of next challenging for a middleweight belt. The latter plan still holds true, with the former titlist ready to adjust to the new style he will next face.
“These things happen in boxing, and I’ve always had the mentality that I have to be prepared for any opponent,” theorized Munguia. “I know that D’Mitrius Ballard is a great fighter with a lot of experience as an amateur and a professional, so I expect to deliver a great fight to get even closer to the world title opportunity.”
REVISED TICKET INFO
Per Golden Boy’s announcement, fans with tickets for the previous date can transfer said tickets to the new event without having to make an additional purchase. Fans no longer able to attend the show due to the date change are encouraged to the original point of purchase for a full refund up until Wednesday, April 14.
Tickets for the new date are on sale, priced at $200, $100, $60 and $35. They are available online at http://www.utepspecialevents.com or www.ticketmaster.com, or over the phone by calling the UTEP Ticket Center at (915) 747-5234.
As was previously the case for the April 24 date, tickets will be sold in pods and groupings of 2, 3, 4 and 6 people only, in compliance with social distancing measures. The venue capacity limit of below 40% also remains in effect in compliance with social distancing measures.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox