By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night at Houston’s Toyota Center, boxing’s youngest world champion returns to the ring as WBO junior middleweight belt-holder, Jaime Munguia takes on Takeshi Inoue, 13-0-1 (7KOs), in the third defence of the title he won just eight months ago.
Coming off a brilliant 2018 which was rounded off with a completely dominant third round stoppage of Brandon Cook, the 22-year-old Mexican, 31-0 (26KOs) has recently spoken about his future plans to move up to 160lb with many believing in the ‘very’ long term that Munguia is being setup for an all Mexican showdown with current middleweight king, Saul ‘Canelo Alvarez.
But, throughout this week and at the final pre-fight press conference, Jaime appears switched on and ready for the weekend,
‘‘This is my first time in Texas and the truth is, it feels like home here. We’re in good condition, and I wanna tell Inoue that the titles will not go to Japan. They will stay in Mexico and with the people who follow me.
I’m gonna be champion for a while.’’
Ranked #3 amongst the WBO’s 154lbers, the Japanese fighter has similar ambitions in mind to that of his namesake, WBA ‘Regular’ bantamweight champion, Naoya Inoue. Takeshi drew his professional debut with fellow debutant, Daishi Nagata back in 2014 but has since accumulated 13 straight victories including most recently, his standout victory over Japanese veteran, Yuki Nonaka via unanimous decision.
At the final media event before the weigh-in, the Tokyo native kept his message clear and concise,
‘‘I think Munguia is a great champion and I look forward to a great fight on Saturday night.
I have come here to bring the WBO belt back to Japan. ’’
Munguia is a champion with a mentality closer to famous faces of the past rather than a lot of the current crop of champions more than happy to fight once or twice a year, Jaime is talented with room to grow, but he’s clearly prepared to learn on the job having fought five times last year.
With attributes capable of making it a rough night for the Mexican, Takeshi’s sweeping hooks, if landed, could trouble the champion but it’s the landing that’s the problem. All evidence so far seems to show a lumbering quality to the Japanese fighter that will leave him open to swift, brutal counters from the Mexican. It’s extremely difficult, considering Munguia’s resume of opponents so far, to see Takeshi having enough to knock his opponent out, or even down if given the chance.
Jaime may have fellow and former champions, Jarrett Hurd, Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo in his sights, but, though unlikely, if he takes Saturday night’s opponent lightly, it could be a long night.
Jesus Rojas vs. Can Xu
With the WBA ‘Regular’ featherweight title on the line, Jesus Rojas of Puerto Rico comes up against Chinese ‘Monster’, Can Xu on the undercard.
Rojas, 26-2-2 (19KOs) is hoping to return to winning ways after dropping a 12-round unanimous decision loss to Joseph Diaz back in August last year, but despite defeat, the 32-year-old kept hold of the title due to Diaz weighing in over the 126lb limit.
With big fights in sight, Rojas is aiming for a showcase fight on Saturday,
‘‘I learned a lot from the Diaz fight.’’ The Puerto Rican told Boxing Scene. ‘‘I’m ready to show my head movement and an improved game plan.
Can Xu is a big fighter and it’s going to be a war…After about six rounds, I predict that I will end this fight by knockout.’’
The ‘big fighter’ Can Xu, 15-2 (2KOs) will be fighting in the US for the second time in a row having earnt an 8-round split decision win over Enrique Bernache back in September. His two defeats came in his first five professional fights but has since gone on a run of twelve straight wins despite quite clearly lacking sufficient power to keep the top featherweights wary.
For both the ‘Regular’ champ, Rojas and the WBA’s ranked #2, Can Xu the fight could represent a gateway-win that sets up a bout with one of the proper champions which includes, Leo Santa Cruz (WBA ‘Super), Gary Russell Jr (WBC), Josh Warrington (IBF) & Oscar Valdez (WBO).