Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Jaime Munguia: ‘I know Sadam Ali is going to be fast. I’m going to do my best to knock him out’


Just over a month ago, Jaime Munguia thought he had a fight against unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. However, that opportunity and his largest purse to date evaporated when the Nevada Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight.

Then came the opportunity to fight Sadam Ali for a junior middleweight world title. Not bad for a consolation prize.

Munguia will attempt to win the WBO 154-pound title on Saturday at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Another 12-round bout between WBC junior featherweight titleholder Rey Vargas and Azat Hovhannisyan will precede the Ali-Munguia clash, and both fights will air live on HBO.

The unbeaten Munguia (28-0, 24 knockouts) took the Ali fight on two weeks’ notice after Englishman Liam Smith withdrew due to an allergic skin reaction that disrupted his training.

Despite boasting an impressive record, the defending titleholder represents a significant step-up in class for Munguia. Ali has won four bouts since a knockout loss to Jessie Vargas in March 2016 and is coming off a 12-round unanimous decision over future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cotto

At just 21 years old, many believe Munguia is in over his head, but the challenger is not buying it.

“I know there are always critics in boxing, but I don’t pay any attention to them,” Munguia told THE RING over the phone Friday morning. “I may be 21, but I do have experience. I’ve been matched against those who have more experience than me or say they are better than me, but I always win and I win by knockout.”

Munguia has stopped his last 19 opponents and emphatically introduced himself to U.S. audiences on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas. In that fight, Munguia dropped Paul Valenzuela twice before the fight was stopped in the second round.

Ali will utilize his speed and ring generalship, something Munguia acknowledges, but the younger man will be relying on his explosive hitting power.

“I know Ali is going to be fast and rely on his quickness,” said Munguia, who is promoted by Zanfer Promotions. “I’m going to counter him and look to walk him down. I’m going to do my best to knock him out.”

Munguia is ranked No. 4 by the WBO and No. 7 by the WBC. As well as holding a world title, Ali is ranked No. 5 by THE RING at 154 pounds.

Zanfer Promotions originally wanted Munguia to fight for a world title belt later this year or early next year. The challenger enters as a slight underdog, with most boxing scribes favoring Ali to win. However, despite his age and lack of big-fight experience, Munguia is convinced he has what it takes to become a world champion.

“I believe the Golovkin fight or what was supposed to be the Golovkin fight opened the door for me to fight Ali for the world title,” said Munguia. “I know I’m ready to fight and win a world title belt on Saturday night.”

The challenger, who hails from Tijuana, Mexico, made weight at Friday’s weigh-in, tipping the scale at 152.75 pounds. Ali weighed in at 153 pounds.


Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at [email protected] on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.


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