Dougie’s Friday Mailbag (Can Jaime Munguia become a middleweight star?)
What’s going on Doug? I hope you and your family are well during these crazy times.
I didn’t see comments in the last mailbag about the Jaime Munguia-Tureano Johnson fight last weekend so I thought I’d chime in. I like Munguia a lot. He brings it every fight and outworks and overpowers his opponents, with his fight against Dennis Hogan being the only exception I can think of. I like the fact that he’s got Erik Morales as a trainer. Basically, I enjoy his style and I hope he continues to prosper in the sport.
But, in spite of all this, I don’t see him on a trajectory for the elite level at these weights. I thought it was a different situation for him against Johnson in that he was not able to simply overpower Johnson with sheer size as he has many (all?) of his opponents (think of Sadam Ali as Exhibit 1).
So, if he can’t roll over guys, how does he win in exciting, crowd-pleasing fashion? Using movement/footwork? I don’t think he’s a complete plodder a la Alfredo Angulo, but he’s no Ray Robinson on his feet either (I know, few are). Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Munguia fight and I want to see him win major championships at the higher weight classes. Yes, I know this may have been an early, if not his first, fight at middleweight. But, at this point, I’m a bit skeptical that he can bring his past success to the higher weight levels.
What are your thoughts on Munguia’s future and what he needs to do to be as successful as he has been in the past?
And what’s up with Johnson’s split lip? I don’t recall ever seeing that in a boxing match. You could combine that third lip with Hasim Rahman’s third eye and have quite the “trifecta” of a Halloween mask. Did Johnson even have a mouthpiece in? I couldn’t see it. And if he did, was it properly fitted? I’m not a dentist, but it seems strange to that could happen with a properly-fitted mouthguard.
I wish you a good weekend. – Andy, Chula Vista, CA
Johnson was open for the uppercut, he’s got some thick-ass lips and Munguia was ripping those uppers with serious leverage and bad intentions. It all combined to produce one of the nastier-looking facial lacerations (caused by a legal punch) that I’ve seen in a long time. I think Johnson’s mouthpiece was in, but it might have been dislodged a bit in a way that caught his upper lip between the hard mouthpiece plastic and Munguia’s rocket-launched glove – BOOM! A chunk of lip goes flying along with the blood spray. A less-durable middleweight probably would have been dropped by that shot.
I like the fact that (Munguia has) got Erik Morales as a trainer. Basically, I enjoy his style and I hope he continues to prosper in the sport. Munguia generally makes for fun fights. Being an action fighter and an undefeated former beltholder from Tijuana, with a legendary TJ fighter in his corner, now campaigning in a glamor division sets up the potential for Munguia to be a star – at least among Mexican fans (which is enough to make a pro boxer a bona-fide attraction in several U.S. markets). I think he can do this (become a major attraction), even if he doesn’t improve or win the big fights, as long as he challenges the elite middleweights (Canelo, GGG, Charlo, Andrade) and gives his all while making for an entertaining fight. The question is: How long will it take for him to be ready for these badasses?
But, in spite of all this, I don’t see him on a trajectory for the elite level at these weights. You’re probably right, but keep in mind that Canelo might not drop back down to middleweight, Golovkin is 38 (and will be 39 in April), and as good as Jermall Charlo looked vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the Ukrainian contender was able to push him to the ropes and work him over during the middle rounds (and was also able to take Round 12 with sheer aggression). For all we know, GGG might be ready to be pushed off that proverbial cliff by a strong, young pressure fighter. And whereas Derevyanchenko was too short and stubby to work his jab on his way inside vs. Charlo, Munguia is 6-foot tall and rangy. He’s got the same body dimensions as Charlo. He’s not as fast or as sharp, technically speaking, as Charlo, but he lets his hands go more and he’s fluid with his combinations. He might be able to catch Charlo from the outside (or midrange) and outwork the talented Texan on the inside. I’m curious to see what a concentrated Munguia body attack would do against both GGG and Charlo. And I’m sure that Morales would have his young pupil prepared to kill the body if those fights are made.
I thought it was a different situation for him against Johnson in that he was not able to simply overpower Johnson with sheer size as he has many (all?) of his opponents (think of Sadam Ali as Exhibit 1). Johnson is hard to overpower. Even Curtis Stevenson, who had world-class speed and power, had to give ground to Johnson when they fought. And Derevyanchenko needed 12 rounds to break him down. Keep that in mind when you evaluate how Munguia fought the gatekeeper. I thought Munguia boxed a smart fight for the most part. He let Johnson inside and set traps, punctuated by that vicious uppercut.
So, if he can’t roll over guys, how does he win in exciting, crowd-pleasing fashion? Using movement/footwork? Yes, and I can tell that he’s been working on these facets of his game during his last three bouts with Morales as his trainer. He can’t rely on a size advantage or raw power and brute strength at middleweight. He’s got to add the finer points of boxing to his arsenal. It remains to be seen how much he can add without detracting from his strengths or confusing himself during a fight.
I don’t think he’s a complete plodder a la Alfredo Angulo, but he’s no Ray Robinson on his feet either (I know, few are). There’s a lot of middle ground between those two fighters (LOL). I think he Munguia should aim to emulate the likes of Robinson and his trainer in the ring. He will ultimately fall short, but in trying to box and fight like those greats, he will improve.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Munguia fight and I want to see him win major championships at the higher weight classes. But, at this point, I’m a bit skeptical that he can bring his past success to the higher weight levels. Lower your expectations. Munguia isn’t that kind of talent, nor is his ring IQ that high. He might eventually win a middleweight title (need I remind you that we are in an era of not only four major world belts in each division, but the WBA sometimes hands out four straps per weight class – Ryota Murata is the “regular” WBA “champ,” Chris Eubank Jr. has their “interim” belt). But let’s put aside thoughts of Munguia winning major titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight until he proves that he can hang with the big dogs at 160 pounds.
What are your thoughts on Munguia’s future and what he needs to do to be as successful as he has been in the past? I think he’s fun TV fighter. I believe he has the potential to be an attraction. That’s good enough for me as long as he rolls the dice and takes on the established ass-kickers of the 160-pound division. I don’t think he was all that successful at 154 pounds, so I’m not expecting him to rule the middleweights. But, again, I don’t care about dominance. I just want to see compelling matchups made and entertaining fights delivered. I think Munguia can do that.
WARP SPEED SCHEDULE
It seems unlikely that Teofimo Lopez grants Vasiliy Lomachenko a rematch. Of course, if a Loma rematch ends up being the most lucrative option for Lopez, it remains a possibility. I saw a conversation between Gervonta Davis and Mike Tyson recently where they discussed the busy schedule of fighters from boxing’s golden age. To me this seems like something an in-demand fighter like Lomachenko could replicate if he was motivated to move down to 130.
My question isn’t how quickly that unification WOULD take, i.e. bouts against Davis, Berchelt and the rest… But how quickly he COULD make those fights, if he told Bob Arum to warp speed his schedule. It seems that in boxing today, there’s this notion that a busy schedule is impossible due to politics and network rivalries. If a P4P level fighter like Loma decided he wanted to forgo any tough negotiating tactics, and move as fast as the industry would allow, how many fights could he amass in ’21? I know he’ll be further delayed recovering from surgery, but let’s assume he’s ready to start in February.
Edgar Berlanga vs David Lemieux
Best. – ws
Your mythical matchup:
Lemieux by mid-rounds stoppage (I think Berlanga is sort of in the same position as Lemieux was vs. Marco Antonio Rubio back in 2011 and now Lemmy is the seasoned old vet – who can punch – that Rubio was at that time)
Regarding Lomachenko dropping back down to 130 pounds and the timetable for him to secure title bouts, I think he could land his first title shot in his first fight back in 2021 if that’s what he wanted to do. His promoter, Top Rank, also works with Miguel Berchelt, the current WBC titleholder (and Ring’s No. 1-rated junior lightweight). If Berchelt beats Oscar Valdez, as many expect him to, a showdown with Loma is probably the biggest fight “El Alacran” could engage in. And if Valdez, who is also promoted by Top Rank, upsets Berchelt then that’s the natural fight to make (and it would be a rematch of their 2009 world amateur championships semifinal bout).
If Loma were to win the WBC title and then requested for Top Rank to negotiate a fight with WBA beltholder Gervonta Davis’ people (Mayweather Promotions and the PBC), I don’t think the hall-of-fame caliber promotional company would waste any time in getting those talks started. Top Rank knows that Lomachenko is in the final stretch of a remarkable boxing career (amateur and pro). They’ve got the old lion, so it doesn’t do anybody any good to hold out for various advantages (money cut, location, promotional lead, etc.) Top Rank/ESPN has done a PBC co-promotion before with Wilder-Fury 2 and I think they’d do it again as a
smaller PPV event. If a fight with Davis is unrealistic for 2021 (let’s say Tank has bigger opportunities at 135 or Floyd is still leery of Loma), I don’t think Top Rank would hesitate to match Loma with the winner of Jamel Herring-Carl Frampton before the end of 2021. If Loma were to be successful again, and unify WBC and WBO belts, I definitely think there would be more pressure on Davis (and Mayweather Promotions/PBC) to make that showdown. If it couldn’t get done in during the first half of 2022, Loma could go for Joseph Diaz Jr., and I think Golden Boy/MTK would be willing to send Jo Jo over to ESPN for that big opportunity. If Loma could unify WBC-WBO-IBF titles, I think by that time the public demand/pressure would be too strong for Top Rank/ESPN/PBC to work out a deal for a PPV showdown (plus, Tank may not be able to make 130 pounds past 2022).
So, to answer your question in a nutshell, I think it would take Loma two years, fighting twice a year, to attempt to become the undisputed (and Ring Magazine) champion at junior lightweight if he were willing to “warp speed” his schedule.
Long-time reader. This is only my second time writing, but wow. Davis’s KO of LSC was scary. How much of that KO do you think was attributable to LSC being a smaller guy coming up in weight? I ask because although it was clearly an intentionally placed punch, I’m wondering if the circumstances were also intentionally advantageous to boost the KO’s appeal. With Mayweather so heavily involved with Davis, this kind of cherry-picking doesn’t seem out of the question. I haven’t forgotten that Mayweather coaxed Marquez to come up in weight, only to suspiciously come in overweight himself. He paid his fine, secured an unfair weight advantage, and completely dominated Marquez. So, is Davis really that good, or was LSC just a perfect opponent? I didn’t think LSC would win, but I didn’t see him losing like that. It’s a bit demoralizing to see LSC’s bravery be met with such crushing stopping force. It felt like I’d just seen Ivan Drago KO Rocky Balboa.
On a related note, how do you see Teofimo vs. Tank playing out? That’s the fight I’d like to see next.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for the many mailbags over the years. – JC, Dallas, TX
Thanks for being a reader for as long as you have. Don’t be shy about writing in again.
I think Lopez-Davis would be an intense, competitive and entertaining boxing match. I envision Lopez winning a decision or wearing Davis down to a late stoppage. It’s the fight that I’d like to see next, too, but I’m not gonna hold my breath for it.
Davis’s KO of LSC was scary.
I was seriously concerned from the moment Santa Cruz’s body slammed on the canvas until about five minutes after he was revived. That was a brutal knockout. My choice for knockout of the year, and I hope I never see Leo in that position again.
How much of that KO do you think was attributable to LSC being a smaller guy coming up in weight? Honestly, I think Tank would have knocked out any of the top junior lightweights – Miguel Berchelt, Joseph Diaz Jr., Jermel Herring, Tevin Farmer, Rene Alvarado – had he landed that same punch on them, so I’m not going to chalk the KO up to Leo being the naturally lighter fighter.
I ask because although it was clearly an intentionally placed punch, I’m wondering if the circumstances were also intentionally advantageous to boost the KO’s appeal. With Mayweather so heavily involved with Davis, this kind of cherry-picking doesn’t seem out of the question. I don’t think Team Davis or Mayweather Promotions selected Santa Cruz because they knew he’d get KTFO by Tank. I think they valued his name recognition and experience, but were also aware that he’d hit his ceiling at featherweight and he wasn’t known as a big puncher at 126 pounds. So, Santa Cruz was a “safe” opponent in that they were pretty sure that he couldn’t seriously hurt Davis with his vaunted volume punching, which made the veteran vulnerable to counter shots. I think they knew there was a chance that Leo’s excellent chin could take Davis into the late rounds, or even the distance, which was fine because that meant they’d have to insist that Tank have a top-notch camp to prepared to battle 12 rounds.
I haven’t forgotten that Mayweather coaxed Marquez to come up in weight, only to suspiciously come in overweight himself. I wouldn’t say he “coaxed” him. Marquez wanted that fight for the glory and money. They originally tried to negotiate a 140-pound catchweight, but Team Mayweather weren’t having that and always maintained that it would be “a welterweight bout,” even when Golden Boy officials were playing coy with the media about what specific weight the catchweight would be set at. It turns out that it was 144 pounds, and Floyd came in at 146. It is what it is. Team Marquez could have insisted on 140, or even walked away when Floyd claimed he couldn’t make 144, but they took the penalty money.
So, is Davis really that good, or was LSC just a perfect opponent? It’s both. Santa Cruz was the perfect opponent to show us how vulnerable Davis can be and how dangerous he can be. Santa Cruz made it into the sixth round with Davis and was competitive. He put hands on Davis. That’s got to give the 130-pound boxer-punchers like Berchelt and Alvarado confidence about their chances vs. Davis, and it’s got to embolden the slick/savvy boxers like Diaz, Herring and Farmer, because they aren’t going to stand in front of Davis like Leo.
I didn’t think LSC would win, but I didn’t see him losing like that. It’s a bit demoralizing to see LSC’s bravery be met with such crushing stopping force. It felt like I’d just seen Ivan Drago KO Rocky Balboa. Hey, I’ll take that over a Drago vs. Apollo Creed scenario.
What would be the aftermath if:
Hearns won both Leonard fights
Duran beats Hagler
Oscar beats Tito clean
Kinonomics, New York, New York
The great Uatu of the cosmic and immortal race of Watchers would be proud of these three What Ifs?
Hearns won both Leonard fights – Tommy’s legacy would obviously be enhanced; he’d be universally viewed as an all-time great (not just a hall of famer or a “great” fighter), and he’d be hailed by most longtime fans as the best of the Four Kings because his only loss to a fellow King would be the legendary shootout with Marvin Hagler.
Duran beats Hagler – He would immediately be hailed as one of the greatest fighters, pound for pound, ever – on par with Sam Langford, Henry Armstrong, Ray Robinson and Willie Pep. However, Duran’s glory would be short lived because I think that victory would have inspired Ray Leonard to return to boxing and challenge him for the middleweight championship and I think the Sugar Man would win a close (maybe controversial) decision. And if Leonard didn’t comeback to beat Duran in ’84, I think Thomas Hearns would beat him for the middleweight crown either in ’84 or ’85. The Hitman might not blast Duran out as he did at 154 pounds, but I think his height, reach, speed and power would be too much over 12 or 15 rounds. I think Tommy could outpoint him if he didn’t stop him.
Oscar beats Tito clean – De La Hoya would have won the Boxing Writers Association of America’s award for Fighter of the Decade instead of Roy Jones Jr. Had De La Hoya won that fight (clearly), he’s have completed the 1990s as a four-division champion (who unified two major belts in two divisions, 135 and 147) with a 32-0 record that included two all-time greats (Whitaker and Chavez), two future hall of famers (Tito and Camacho), two borderline HOFers (Hernandez and Quartey), and several top contenders/titleholders (M.A. Gonzalez, J.J. Leija, Ruelas, Carr, Paez and Rivera).
BEST FIGHTERS WITHOUT TITLES
Who, in your opinion, are the best fighters in any given weight class who do not yet have a title? – Greg K.
If you’re talking about current contenders (or prospects in some divisions) who have yet to win a major world title (not those who have held a major belt but are currently without), I’ll go with the following fighters per division:
Heavyweight – Dillian Whyte (no, the WBC interim belt doesn’t count)
Cruiserweight – Kevin Lerena and Andrew Tabiti
Light heavyweight – Joe Smith Jr.
Super Middleweight – John Ryder
Middleweight – Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Chris Eubank Jr. (we don’t recognize the WBA interim belt here at The Ring)
Junior middleweight – Brian Castano (we don’t recognize the WBA interim or “regular” belts here at The Ring) and Michel Soro
Welterweight – Yordenis Ugas
Junior welterweight – Jose Zepeda
Lightweight – Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia
Junior lightweight – Rene Alvarado (again, we don’t recognize the WBA’s regular belt, although it could be argued that Alvarado should own the organization’s “super” title)
Featherweight – Kid Galahad
Junior featherweight – Hiroaki Teshigawara, Azat Hovhannisyan and Stephen Fulton
Bantamweight – Takuma Inoue and Jason Moloney
Junior bantamweight – Joshua Franco (we love the kid, but we know that Chocolatito is the real WBA champ at this weight) and Jeyvier Cintron
Flyweight – Junto Nakatani (as I write this, but by the time you read this he may have won the WBO belt)
Junior flyweight – Edward Heno and Daniel Matellon
Strawweight – Ginjiro Shigeoka (and the kid only has five pro bouts – remember the name, one day you’ll be getting’ “shiggy” with it)
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s Periscope or Dougie’s IG Live every Sunday.