Jaime Munguia has his work cut out for him at middleweight, but it’s clear that his power has followed him up the scale.
An entertaining slugfest with Tureano Johnson ended with Munguia claiming his third straight stoppage win. A right uppercut by the former junior middleweight titlist busted open the upper lip of Johnson to force the end after six entertaining rounds of action Friday evening live on DAZN from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Johnson entered the fight on the heels of a 15-month layoff, having not fought since a 9th round knockout of then-unbeaten Jason Quigley last July. There wasn’t any evidence of ring rust, as the 2008 Bahamian Olympian came charging out the gate, smothering Munguia and landing chopping shots on the inside.
“I was surprised by Johnson’s pressure,” Munguia admitted afterward to DAZN’s Sofia Zinger. “I wanted to establish my power but was pressured from the get-go, My uppercuts were key in turning things in my favor.”
Tijuana’s Munguia composed himself and found his range towards the end of the frame, connecting with a left hook upstairs. The hope was to carry the momentum over into round two, but Johnson—who now trains with Andre Rozier out of Brooklyn, New York—went back to crowding his unbeaten foe. Munguia adapted, sliding back just enough to catch Johnson with right uppercuts every time his foe rushed him.
The furiously-paced battle didn’t let up in round three. Johnson switched between southpaw and orthodox, landing chopping right hands from both stances. Munguia took the shots well, slipping one exchange and spinning out to the middle of the ring where he controlled the real estate. The right uppercut continued to land with regularity, with Munguia’s power clearly taking its toll on a 36-year old Johnson who was showing signs of fatigue.
Munguia used more of the ring in round four, making a conscious effort to play defense, Johnson took advantage of the dramatic decrease in Munguia’s offense, charging forward and landing right hands which caught the attention of the former junior middleweight titlist. Johnson picked up the pace in round five, constantly moving forward and landing power shots upstairs.
Munguia struggled with his opponent’s sudden surge, offering more movement and ending the frame with his mouth agape. The 24-year old took a deep breath and came out swinging to start round six.
Johnson was game for the cause, continuing to land right hands upstairs. Time was called with 0:21 in the round, as the ringside physician examined a grotesquely deep cut on Johnson lip caused by a vicious right uppercut by Munguia. He was permitted to finish the frame, with the fight stopped prior to the start of round seven.
Referee Raul Caiz Sr. ruled that the cut was caused by a punch, thus leaving Johnson dejected and Munguia able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The official time was 3:00 of round six.
Munguia improves to 36-0 (29KOs), claiming his second win at middleweight. The unbeaten former titlist landed 158-of-416 punches (38%) through six rounds, compared to 111-of-445 (25%) for Johnson, who falls to 21-3-1 (15KOs).
Munguia moved up to middleweight after a 19-month stay as a junior middleweight titlist. His first fight at the new weight came earlier this year, stopping Ireland’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan this past January. The bout was his seventh in a span of just 18 months. His activity was slowed only due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though hopes to resume his old ways now that the sport is once again healthy and running on a regular basis.
“I want another fight in January and then hope for a world title fight,” notes Munguia. “I will see what my promoter Fernando Beltran has in store for me and will be ready for any challenge.”
Munguia was inserted as the number-one middleweight contender by the World Boxing Organization—whose title he held at 154 pounds—upon moving up in weight earlier this year. The still-improving boxer decided to not pursue a title fight when the opportunity arose, believing there was still more work to be done in growing into a full-fledged middleweight under the tutelage of Hall of Fame former four-division champ Erik Morales.
That belief is still in place, particularly during a global health crisis as Friday’s bout came without a crowd and the strong likelihood of a similar backdrop should he enjoy a quick turnaround.
On the DAZN side are middleweight titlists Gennadiy Golovkin and Demetrius Andrade, both of whom are committed to mandatory title defenses—and Andrade with a tune-up fight in November before then—and therefore not even on Munguia’s schedule to wait out a title fight. Jermall Charlo recently defended his belt in a competitive but clear win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko, while lineal middleweight king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is currently embroiled in a courtroom battle with DAZN and Golden Boy Promotions.
Needless to say, time is most certainly on Munguia’s side if development remains the preferred course of action. He will be just as ready, however, if by chance any of the aforementioned are positioned to offer him a title shot in the near future.
“It would be good to continue getting experience,” Munguia admitted to BoxingScene.com. “That said, if the opportunity becomes available we would be happy to step up to the challenge in front of us.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox