After winning a world title belt as a junior middleweight, Jaime Munguia believes he has what it takes to win a world title belt at 160 pounds.
He must first get by Gary O’Sullivan in order for that to become a reality.
Munguia will face the Irish-born fighter Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
The hard-hitting Munguia (34-0, 27 knockouts), who resides in Tijuana, Mexico, punctuated his reign as the WBO junior middleweight titleholder in his last bout on Sept. 14 in Carson, California, battering Ghana’s Patrick Allotey before knocking him out in round four. He did have a difficult time in his previous fight against Dennis Hogan five months before the Allotey fight, winning by majority decision in a fight many thought Hogan did enough to win.
Four months after the Hogan fight, Munguia announced he made the switch from Roberto Alcazar to former world champion Erik Morales to train him. Munguia had grown up idolizing Morales, who is also from Tijuana, while growing up in the city that borders the United States.
Morales has been impressed over the last five months he has worked with him.
"We're working on Munguia's technique more than anything,” said Morales. “Munguia is a very responsible fighter. He has lots of energy and loves to work. He also wants to learn. That was one of the conditions I had before starting with him. I wanted to make sure that he wanted to learn, and he has shown that he is ready and willing to learn what I have to teach him."
Munguia appreciates what Morales has done with him thus far.
“It's always good to have someone with a lot of experience in your corner,” said Munguia at Tuesday’s open workout. “Morales was in a lot of great fights with some of the best fighters in the world, so it's always good to have someone like him on my team. He's not trying to change my style. I'm going to keep my style, but we've also been working on my defense, speed, and knowing when to throw punches."
The 23-year-old Munguia will likely box O’Sullivan early on from the opening bell. O’Sullivan (30-3, 21 KOs), who resides in Cork, Ireland, has won his last two bouts after losing by knockout in the opening round to David Lemieux in September of 2018. Munguia believes he will be facing an experienced and talented fighter in O’Sullivan despite the knockout loss he suffered at the hands of Lemieux.
"Gary O'Sullivan comes with a strong desire to win and a strong mentality, which will make for a tougher fight, said Munguia, who is co-promoted by Zanfer Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions. “He's a high-level fighter with a lot of experience. Fighting against him in my first fight at middleweight is a great opportunity to get a lot of experience."
"He's very strong and has a strong right hand, so we have to be careful. He's a fighter that goes forward and throws punches very fast. He'll suddenly explode with fast combinations, so we have to make sure we're aware of that with my guard up."
Munguia is favored to win Saturday night and has his sights set on a winning a world title belt. He has been adamant in the past about facing Canelo Alvarez or Gennadiy Golovkin, the latter back in 2018 when Alvarez had to withdraw their May rematch for testing positive for low levels of clenbuterol. The Nevada Athletic Commission did not allow that fight to happen, but Munguia did go to win the WBO title as a replacement stopping Sadam Ali a few weeks later.
The middleweight division is wide open and there are world titleholders or potential high-profile contenders Munguia is eyeing, but he is not overlooking O’Sullivan.
"The move to middleweight has its benefits because I don't have to lose as much weight. I feel good at this weight. I feel stronger. The plan is to one day fight for a world title in this division. But right now we are concentrated on the fight we have in front of us."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing