Jaime Munguia could wind up with an even tougher test than expected for his next fight.
Handlers for the former junior middleweight titlist are forced to search for a new opponent for his scheduled April 24 DAZN headliner at Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. The show will move forward, though without the services of Poland’s Maciej Sulecki, who was forced to withdraw after suffering an undisclosed injury during training camp.
The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger was the first to report the development.
Interestingly, leading the pack of potential replacements is unbeaten D’Mitrius Ballard (20-0-1, 13KOs)—the opponent originally sought by Golden Boy Promotions (who promotes Ballard and co-promotes Munguia along with Zanfer Promotions). For reasons that were never clarified to BoxingScene.com, there was instead a push for Sulecki (29-2, 11KOs), a former middleweight title challenger who has previously appeared on DAZN.
Prior to the bout being formally announced, Sulecki expressed doubt in the matchup moving forward. The claim on his side at the time of being informed of the fight was that the date was just six weeks out, with such a period including quarantine time upon arriving in the United States.
Upon confirmation of a deal being reached, Sulecki admitted to his prior public concern largely surrounding the uncertainty of securing a travel passport in time to make the trip abroad.
It is now a moot point, as he is now out of the mix.
Should the assignment go to Ballard, it will mark his first fight 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 Maryland product, 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, there is the belief that Ballard poses a more serious threat than Sulecki, who remains best known for his losses to WBO middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade and former two-time middleweight title claimant Daniel Jacobs. Ballard spent most of his career at super middleweight before moving down for good in in 2019.
Munguia (36-0, 29KOs) has won two straight at middleweight since abandoning his WBO junior middleweight title reign in late 2019. Both wins came on opposite sides of the pandemic in 2020, stopping Ireland’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan in the 11th round of their DAZN main event last January, followed by a 7th round stoppage of Bahama’s 2008 Olympian and veteran contender Tureano Johnson last October at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
With a win, Munguia intends to challenge for a middleweight belt. Plans for that to come in this fight were put on hold after failing to come to terms for a showdown with two-time and reigning IBF 160-pound title claimant Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs). Munguia is ranked in the Top 10 by all four sanctioning bodies, including number-one by both the WBC and WBO.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox