Will all the opponent switches mess with Jaime Munguia?
The change of opponents leading up to his Saturday afternoon bout could have frustrated or thrown off unbeaten middleweight Jaime Munguia. Instead, he has relied on past experience and the knowledge of trainer Erik Morales.
Now that he knows who he will face for sure, Munguia wants to win impressively and secure an opportunity to challenge for a world title belt.
Munguia, who is ranked No. 8 by The Ring, will face Kamil Szeremeta of Poland at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. The 12-round bout streams live tomorrow (June 19) on DAZN (3:30 p.m. ET/ 12:30 p.m. PT).
The 24-year-old (36-0, 29 KOs) had gone through a handful of opponents before Szeremeta was finalized less than two weeks ago. Munguia was originally scheduled to face Maciej Sulecki on April 24, but Sulecki had to pull out after suffering an injury during training camp.
Unbeaten D’Mitrius Ballard was named the replacement a few days later, but he also had to withdraw from the fight after suffering an injury.
Sulecki was again the opponent for Munguia after the fight date was pushed back to Saturday. On June 1, Sulecki’s promoter, Andrzej Wasilewski, announced his fighter withdrew from the Munguia fight for an undisclosed reason.
Szeremeta will be a solid test and a measuring stick for Munguia. The 31-year-old challenged IBF title-holder Gennadiy Golovkin on December 18, losing by technical knockout, following seven complete rounds, after he was dropped four times during the bout.
Despite the change of opponents over the last several weeks, Munguia insists he hasn’t been thrown off track.
“I’ve been calm about all these changes,” Munguia told The Ring over the phone Thursday afternoon. “When I started (boxing), I used to have lots of changes. I used to have to train all year because I would fight six or seven times a year. I had to always be ready. There would be sudden changes, but I have a lot of experience. At this level, it’s different because the training is longer and more strategic, but we are calm and we are coming very well-prepared.”
There had been some rumblings of Munguia facing Golovkin earlier this year. It is not the first time a fight between the two has been discussed. After Canelo Alvarez was suspended for a positive test for clenbuterol in 2018, thus postponing his rematch against Golovkin, Munguia was mentioned as a possible opponent. The Nevada Athletic Commission would not approve the fight, leading to Golovkin fighting Vanes Martirosyan in Carson, California and Munguia challenging and defeating WBO junior middleweight titleholder Sadam Ali.
Both fights took place in May 2018.
Despite lacking the experience of fighting the elite fighters at 160 pounds, Munguia wanted the Golovkin fight. He does hope that fight will take place later this year or in 2022.
“I wanted to fight against him,” said Munguia, who is co-promoted by Golden Boy and Zanfer Promotions. “We were ready for him. I was okay with three or four weeks of training because I’m always in the gym. There were rumors for a fight in May. I never turn down a fight. I will be ready if that opportunity comes.”
Munguia has utilized more technique in recent fights, and he has stopped his last three opponents. The fighter has developed steadily under Erik Morales, the former world titleholder in four different weight classes.
Despite questions on whether his defense will improve or could be exposed by Szeremeta, Munguia has seen improvement in his skill-set, thanks to the guidance and work by Morales. For the record, the Szeremeta fight will be the fourth bout for the Munguia-Morales duo.
“We’ve worked on everything,” said Morales.
“Distance, speed, using more my right hand to the head or body. We experiment, but I think I’ve improved on everything overall, especially throwing combinations. Morales has told me to not get erratic when I get hit. We’ve had great preparation in any fight where I’ve had Morales in my corner. He’s shown me a lot of different ways to fight in the ring. Morales was a complete fighter. He has helped me out a lot.”
Munguia was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, where plenty of great fighters have perfected their craft, including Morales. The city has seen a boom in fight cards taking place, especially at the Big Punch Arena.
Whether they are unbeaten prospects or gatekeepers, Munguia has made it a point to support fighters from Tijuana and the fight cards that take place throughout the city.
“I go to the fights all the time. When I fight, I understand the attention and focus is on me. When these fighters box, I want the attention to go to them. I try and help the young fighters from Tijuana. I do it for boxing and for all sports in the area, including futbol (soccer).”
As far as wanting to face the best in the division, whether it is Golovkin, WBC titleholder Jermall Charlo, WBO titleholder Demetrius Andrade, or WBA titleholder Ryota Murata, Munguia believes he is ready for the best in the division.
Munguia also wants to be known as the peoples’ champion.
“We are willing to face any of the world titleholders, even Golovkin,” he said. “People want that fight. I just want to be remembered as a great fighter. I’m always willing to give (the fans and media) great fights. I just hope to one day be a great champion at 160 pounds.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 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