It’s still too soon for Jaime Munguia to truly miss his time spent as a junior middleweight titlist. One thing he won’t miss from it, though, is having to shed those six extra points.
“I was struggling way too much to make 154 pounds,” Munguia (34-0, 27KOs) admitted to BoxingScene.com of one of the main factors behind the Tijuana, Mexico product abandoning his title reign. “It was the right time to move up in weight.”
There was a brief period where Munguia and his team considered retaining his 154-pound belt while taking on a non-title fight at middleweight as a test drive at the new weight, which comes in a 12-round showdown versus Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas (Saturday, DAZN, 9:00pm ET).
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) conceded as much as its laws would allow, even creating an interim title at stake for a November 30 clash which saw Patrick Teixeira outpoint Carlos Adames in a bout originally budgeted as a title eliminator. At the annual WBO convention, Teixeira was granted an upgrade after it was revealed that Munguia had willingly vacated his title, ending a reign which began with a May 2018 knockout win over Sadam Ali and crammed five successful title defenses into a 16-month run including a 4th round knockout of Patrick Allotey last September in what became his final fight at the weight.
Even that fight came with consideration of at least fighting at an above-the-limit catchweight, as Munguia had struggled to make 154 in each of his previous wins over Takeshi Inoue and Dennis Hogan earlier in the year. One last sacrifice was made to extend his title reign to and through Mexican Independence Day weekend, but with his 2020 campaign now dedicated to chasing titles at a weight more befitting the 6’0” tall, 24-year old boxer.
“I want to challenge any of the middleweight champions,” vows Munguia.
It’s as sensible a business decision as any, given the money to be made at the weight.
Whereas Munguia was generally without a notable junior middleweight peer on DAZN—with the bulk of the division’s best all fighting under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) umbrella—there is no shortage of accessible talent at middleweight. The lot includes the sport’s biggest draw in Munguia’s countryman, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez—both of whom are promoted by Golden Boy Promotions—along with two-time middleweight titlist Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin and unbeaten two-division title claimant Demetrius Andrade, all of whom currently fight on DAZN.
All were on his sights even as a starving 154-pound artist, although with a team-made decision to remain at the weight at least through his 2019 campaign. Now comes the opportunity to make his mark at a more preferred fighting weight—or at least the point he hopes to prove this weekend.
“We are very excited to test the waters in a new division,” notes Munguia. “We have a good challenger [in O’Sullivan], who has only lost to world champions [Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Eubank Jr. and David Lemieux]. We will best know how I feel at this weight once we are in the ring, but God willing with a win and coming out healthy, Fernando Beltran [of Zanfer Boxing, Munguia’s co-promoter] will work to line up the biggest names in the division and achieve my goal of winning the middleweight championship in 2020.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox