Jaime Munguia has never been the type to stress over who is standing in the opposite corner on fight night.
Of greater concern to the unbeaten Tijuana native is the ability to perform in front of a live audience.
“I’m very happy, pleased to be fighting in front of fans again,” Munguia told BoxingScene.com of his upcoming June 19 DAZN headliner. The former WBO junior middleweight titlist was due to face Poland’s Maciej Sulecki, though all indications now point to another Polish contender in Kamil Szeremeta replacing his countryman in the main event at Don Haskins Center on the campus of University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
The bout is the second for Munguia (36-0, 29KOs) since the pandemic, though his first with fans in attendance in more than a year. The unbeaten 24-year-old has not fought in front of a live crowd since last January, when he stopped Ireland’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan in the 11th round of their DAZN-aired middleweight bout at Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Munguia’s lone bout since then came last October, when he stopped Tureano Johnson in the 6th round of another DAZN main event which aired behind closed doors at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in indio, California. The show was limited to essential personnel, with fans not permitted at the time due to social distancing measures as much of the world was still combating the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was hard and also kind of depressing fighting without the public,” admits Munguia. “We did what we had to do but it was just weird. It’s kind of like fighting in the gym but at least in the gym we can train with music, we can have fun and all that.
“I’m just glad to fight again in front of my fans. It's been more than a year since I’ve been able to experience that.”
The return to normalcy would have come much sooner, only for bad luck to endure Munguia’s previous fight date. He was due to face Sulecki on April 24 from this very venue, only for the former middleweight title challenger to withdraw due to an alleged injury. Sulecki was replaced by unbeaten D’Mitrius Ballard, who was diagnosed with a legitimate injury less than two weeks prior to the event, prompting Golden Boy Promotions and Zanfer Promotions to move off of the date.
All involved parties were able to hustle to secure the June 19 date, which has only heightened anticipation.
“A lot of my friends and fans who follow me have been anxious to see me fight,” admits Munguia. “They’ve been asking when they can buy tickets for my fight so now they have the opportunity to see me live.
“They can come but for my fans in Tijuana it is a bit far. They can’t cross into San Diego so they have to fly from Mexico to Dallas and then make their way to El Paso. But I’m confident my fans in the area will turn out and I expect to have a lot of support.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox