Mexican Jaime Munguia is just 21-years-old, but has racked up 29 wins already in his career with a frightening 25 KO’s.
It was a fourth-round demolition of world champion Sadam Ali that awarded him the WBO world super-welterweight title that Smith once owned during 2015-2016 and is flying 5,000 miles to reclaim.
Ali foolishly fought Munguia in an attempt to show his unexpected upset over an aging Miguel Cotto was a testament to his speed and skill and not because he was facing a spent force. Instead, The Ring Magazine’s 2017 Prospect of the Year justified the hype surrounding him by dropping the champ within the first minute and finishing him three rounds later in devastating fashion.
Liam Smith, the WBO no.1, will provide the hungry, young world titlist with his first defence of the title he previously held himself and conceded in his third defence to another Mexican, Canelo, in September 2016.
It’s youth versus experience as some – but not all – of the figures below will reveal.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Liam Smith Jaime Munguia
Age: 29 Age: 21
Debut: October 2010 Debut: July 2013
Height: 5’9 ½” Height: 6’
Fights: 28 Fights: 29
Won: 26 Won: 29
KO’s: 14 KO’s: 25
Lost: 1 Lost: 0
Drawn: 1 Drawn: 1
KO %: 50 KO%: 86
Rounds: 160 Rounds: 89
Titles: 6 Titles: 1
Smith has experienced almost double the rounds than Munguia has, giving him the vaster ring experience despite having one less fight than the Mexican. He has also been a pro fighter for almost three years longer, the 21-year-old just passing the fifth-year anniversary of his debut. The current WBO world champion has only ever experienced two title fights, just one of those at world level, which is dwarfed by Liam’s 10 title tilts, four of which were at world title level.
Surprisingly, the Mexican’s previous five opponents have a greater combined record than his British challengers. However, his bitter ring rival Liam Williams, you would probably back to beat all five on Munguia’s list. The standout name above is obviously pound-for-pound superstar Canelo, who Smith started slowly against but came alive in the mid-rounds which allowed Canelo to finally find the openings he was looking for, leading to a ninth-round knockout.
Many may expect this Mexican powerhouse to steamroller through Smith in the same way that he dispatched of world champion Sadam Ali, who previously dethroned Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto.
When ‘Beefy’ tucks up behind his guard and plays his peekaboo tactics, his defence is almost impossible to break down. Former rival Liam Williams testified to his skill and intellect, after their brace of fights, stating specifically that his talent is hugely underrated.
Smith will be hoping to use his intelligence and experience against the youngster, who will likely be looking to go in all guns blazing, as is his custom, and will have devised the perfect game plan with trainer Joe Gallagher, which I’d imagine to be similar to when he fought Canelo – tuck up, don’t allow anything heavy to land cleanly, stay close and compact, and pick your return shots well when it’s safe to do so.
Smith could very well be resourceful but this could put him behind on the scorecards and will eventually be forced to open up and increase his output, which could lead to trouble.
Calculations show that Munguia’s knockouts have an average of happening within 2.6 rounds, but the Brit isn’t as easy a target as other opponents the Mexican has faced, especially when trying to land those long-reaching left hooks that are so devastating and effective, which have resulted in 15 first and second-round finishes. Smith will try to stand in close so he can’t gather momentum with those long shots.
I expect the Liverpudlian to give the Tijuanan the hardest fight of his career but will eventually be halted in or around the championship rounds, which goes against the momentum that he has built lately – of his last 10 fights, during 2017 and 2018, only one has gone past the fourth-round, so I think many will be betting on a stoppage within the first half of the contest.
Smith’s durability, stubbornness and punch resistance should carry him through to the later rounds, in my view, but if Munguia is able to land those rib-busting body shots cleanly and frequently then the fight will finish early.