Jaime Munguia wrapped up an active 2022 campaign leaving fans longing for more.
A lot more.
To his credit, as much was not lost on the unbeaten former WBO junior middleweight who accepted the criticism that preceded his perceived mismatch with Argentina’s Gonzalo Coria. Tijuana’s Munguia had his way with the visiting fringe contender en route to a third-round knockout in their DAZN-aired main event Saturday evening from Arena Astros in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Coria was floored in rounds two and three, the latter knockdown producing a ten-count to end the fight at 2:32 of round three.
Munguia came out to a deliberate start, picking his spots in the opening round. Coria was content to allow the slow pace, providing different looks for the heavily favoured Munguia who took his time in figuring out his fleet-footed southpaw foe.
The gap was significantly closed in round two, providing Munguia with the bout’s first knockdown. The moment came courtesy of a right hand near the centre ring, with Coria taking the shot clean as he fell to the canvas. Coria beat the count and immediately circled the ring once action resumed. Munguia was able to corner the Argentine boxer, who repeatedly clinched which drew harsh warnings from referee Javier Pena.
Munguia closed the show in style in round three. Constant pressure was provided by the 26-year-old regional favourite, who was fighting in Mexico for the second time within his past three starts. Coria did his best to fight back once he ran out of real estate, launching a right uppercut that was partially blocked.
Munguia stalked Coria, connecting with left hooks to the body on three consecutive occasions. Coria shifted to the opposite side of the ring, only to absorb a pair of right hands and a final left hook to the body which prompted a delayed reaction knockdown. Coria remained on the canvas for the full ten counts to produce the bitter ending, falling to 21-6 (8KOs) with the defeat to end a three-fight win streak.
Among Coria’s previous losses was an October 2020 second-round knockout to Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8KOs), who has since claimed the WBO middleweight title.
Saturday’s win runs Munguia’s record to 41-0 (33KOs). It was his third of the year—all by knockout and none lasting more than five rounds. He has now fought four times in the past 53 weeks, though there has come an industry-wide demand for far more significant opposition in 2023 and beyond.
The late-made fight was an unexpected treat for Munguia, who was uncertain of a third ring appearance in 2022 after losing out on a previously targeted October 29 date. The undefeated middleweight contender—who is ranked among the top three by all four major sanctioning bodies (WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO)—was previously in talks to next face England’s John Ryder, with a deal seemingly in place only for the fight to never see the light of day.
It was the second significant matchup involving Munguia that failed to make its way to the ring. The finish line was actually in sight as it related to his planned challenge of two-division and reigning WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22KOs) on a June 18 Showtime card from Charlo’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Talks collapsed at the eleventh-hour, with Munguia’s co-promoters—Zanfer Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions—insisting that DAZN needed to be involved in the event, which ultimately killed the fight.
Munguia wound up facing lightly regarded Jimmy ‘Kilrain’ Kelly, whom he stopped inside of five rounds on June 11 in Anaheim. The fight came four months after a third-round knockout of unbeaten D’Mitrius Ballard on February 19 in his Tijuana hometown, with Saturday’s bout landing on the schedule less than a month ago after it seemed uncertain that Munguia—or Golden Boy—would get another DAZN fight date on the year.
The win sees Munguia advance to 7-0 (6KOs) at or above the middleweight limit since moving up for good in January 2020. He has remained among the sport’s most active top boxers though the act has worn thin on the lack of significant competition manning the opposite corner.
His words suggest that he is ready to respond to that challenge, preferably revisiting a fight with Charlo or a more coveted—and longer sought—showdown with unified WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight champion Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin.
“I was happy to be in the ring. This year we couldn’t do Charlo, but hopefully we can do it next year,” Munguia admitted following the win. “But we know that Gennadiy Golovkin is not signed with (a rival promoter). I would love to meet him in May.”
Not that Munguia’s desire to face any top middleweight should be discouraged, but there are significant roadblocks with either stated target.
Upon the fallout with Munguia, Charlo was due to face Poland’s Maciej Sulecki on the reserved Juneteenth weekend date. A back injury forced the unbeaten Texan to withdraw from the fight, while other issues have since prevented him from returning to the ring.
Golovkin (42-2-1, 37KOs) managed to unify the WBA and IBF belts earlier this year, dethroning long-reigning though grossly inactive WBA titlist Ryota Murata via ninth-round knockout on April 9 in Saitama, Japan. With the win came two mandatories—one already in waiting and the other inherited with the win over Murata.
Erislandy Lara is the WBA ‘Regular’ titlist and is still owed a title shot. He was due to face Golovkin within 120 days of the Kazakhstani boxer’s loss to undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their trilogy clash on September 17 in Las Vegas.
However, an agreement reached between the WBA and IBF allowed the latter to have their mandatory—Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao, a 2012 Olympic Silver medalist and unbeaten contender—to instead go first. Golovkin and Falcao are supposed to be in talks for a fight, with Lara seemingly waiting in the wings.
Still, Munguia and his team insist there is a pathway to landing that fight.
“Golovkin, see you in May 2023,” vowed Munguia.
The urgency is implied in wanting to face Golovkin before the 40-year-old, two-tour middleweight titlist calls it a career. Unfortunately for Munguia, the waiting process for that fight to materialize can no longer come with more of the same.
BY JAKE DONOVAN