Jaime Munguia retains WBO junior middleweight title with points win over Liam Smith in Las Vegas

Anthony Cocks

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WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia 30-0 (25) overcame a spirited effort from mandatory challenger Liam “Beefy” Smith 26-2-1 (14) to retain his title over 12 rounds at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.

In his first defence of the title he won from Sadam Ali 26-2 (14) in May this year, the 21-year-old Mexican had to withstand an early attack from England’s Smith before taking over in the fourth round and landing the harder shots for most of the fight.

By the time the dust settled, Munguia was awarded the victory by scores of 116-111, 119-110 and 119-108.

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“It was a tough fight and he’s a tough fighter,” said Munguia, who has only been past the sixth round once when Johnny Navarrete 31-13-2 (13) took him 10 rounds in April last year.

In the sixth round a sizzling left hook from Munguia dropped the 8-1 underdog, but the champion was unable to finish the job.

The fight ended Munguia’s six-bout knockout streak going back a year.

“I feel good. I’m happy. I think that the people liked it,” said Munguia. “I didn’t win by knockout like I always. This is the fifth decision win of my career. But I fought a good opponent who was strong. I came in very well prepared.

“There are no excuses and we will keep learning because this gave me a lot of experience. I’m only 21 years old and I will keep working in the gym. Liam Smith is a warrior. He is strong. There were times where I really landed punches, which really backed him up. He’s very strong and can take a punch, so I have no excuses.

“I was always looking for the knockout. I always looked for the fight, and I went in there like a true Mexican. I think going these 12 rounds will serve me as experience.”

Smith was originally set to face Miguel Cotto-conqueror Ali for the championship in May but was forced to withdraw after a skin condition caused by an allergy prevented him from training. This opened the door for the little-known Munguia to step in and win the WBO world title.

Despite the wide scorecards, Smith put up a good fight and was far from disgraced.

“I don’t think he’s a much better fighter than me,” said Smith. “It was the body shots that hurt me. I wanted the title I lost two years ago.

“I want to stay more active than before. I’m usually known for my fitness, but was I winded in this fight. I felt my skill level made the difference in certain parts.”

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