Home-run hitter Jaime Munguia 29-0 (25) is confident that he will keep his unbeaten streak alive when he makes the first defence of his WBO junior middleweight title against Liam “Beefy” Smith 26-1-1 (14) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 21.
The 21-year-old Mexican surprised many in the boxing world when he stepped in as a last-minute replacement to dethrone Miguel Cotto-conqueror Sadam Ali 26-2 (14) by TKO4 at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York in May.
“I’m always 100% ready,” said Munguia. “I got the call to fight Sadam Ali with only two weeks notice. The only struggle was to lose the weight, but other than that I was ready. I knew my advantage was my reach and my power. I knew that he was a smaller fighter. Those were the keys to my victory.”
Ali was originally scheduled to face England’s Smith, the WBO’s mandatory contender who was forced to withdraw after suffering an illness during training camp. Now Munguia will get the chance to face Smith, who, at 29, is in his physical prime and brings big fight experience to the table.
“I think that the only advantage that Liam Smith has is that he’s fought in big events before,” said Munguia, who had only fought once in the United States before the Ali fight. “But I have many fights under my belt. I have a lot of experience. I had over 100 fights as an amateur. All this experience gives me a lot of confidence when I step into the ring.
“Also, Smith says he’s a natural 154-pounder, but I want to tell him that I’m a natural 160-pounder who drops down. I’m very happy with the training camp we had and very confident about this fight.”
Munguia was tipped to face unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin earlier this year when his original opponent Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was forced to withdraw after twice testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.
Although that opportunity eventually went to career junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan, the process wasn’t an entirely lost cause.
“The potential fight against Gennady Golovkin really got my name out there,” said Munguia. “It allowed me to get the opportunity to fight for a world title. I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful that the NSAC didn’t allow me to fight against Golovkin because it led to this world title.”
If Munguia is successful, he hopes that victory will lead him to a shot at the winner of the September rematch between middleweights Golovkin and Alvarez.
“I feel very motivated now that I am a world champion,” he said. “Everyone is going to talk about me after this fight. This will open up more opportunities, and people will mention my name with the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.”