By Jake Donovan
Ahead of its first show on a new platform, the Golden Boy Promotions staff is fully prepared to hit the ground running for the 2019 boxing season.
Currently in the hopper is a planned January 26 show at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, which will air live on sports streaming service DAZN. Headlining the show, unbeaten super welterweight titlist Jaime Munguia will attempt his fourth defense in facing undefeated challenger Takeshi Inoue.
Golden Boy makes its DAZN debut this Saturday, with its biggest star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez moving up in weight to challenge secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding. Alvarez signed a record-breaking contract with the streaming service this past October, a move that was shortly followed by Golden Boy securing a long-term deal to bring its entire stable over after having previously been spread out on HBO, ESPN and Facebook.
The first DAZN show of 2019 under such deal is expected to be formally announced shortly, with the red-hot Munguia (31-0, 26KOs) getting the honor of serving as the star attraction.
The red-hot unbeaten titlist from Tijuana, Mexico is currently promoted by Zanfer Promotions, but entered a co-promotional agreement with Golden Boy beginning with his one-sided knockout win over Sadam Ali in May. The feat was part of an active 2018 in-ring campaign, where he scored four wins in as many bouts but whose rise to stardom actually began with a fight that never materialized.
Munguia was named as an alternate opponent for Gennady Golovkin once plans for a May 5 rematch with Alvarez were put on hold due to Alvarez twice testing positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol. Best efforts to preserve the fight date in Las Vegas were ultimately thwarted after Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission deemed Munguia as too green a challenge for a boxer of Golovkin’s superstar ilk.
It was a fair assessment, as Munguia—while 28-0 at the time—would have been moving up in weight in addition to taking a massive leap in competition. Golovkin wound up taking the show to Southern California, where he annihilated Vanes Martirosyan in two rounds.
Meanwhile, Munguia went on to become a major breakout star of 2018. Shortly after knocking out Ali to win the title in their HBO-televised headliner in May, the 6’0” super welterweight made two high-profile defenses.
First was his decision win over former titlist Liam Smith in his second straight HBO headliner in July, less than eight weeks after winning the belt. Less than two months later came a 3rd round knockout of Brandon Cook in Las Vegas, as the chief support to the reschedule Alvarez-Golovkin rematch, in which Alvarez won a 12 round decision atop an HBO Pay-Per-View which sold more than 1.1 million units.
Efforts to squeeze in a 5th fight on the year would’ve had Munguia back on HBO, as there were talks of his headlining the network’s final-ever card. His handlers instead decided that it was too ambitious a move, with the preference of starting fresh in a 2019 campaign they hope to be equally as active while growing even more as an emerging boxing superstar.
Awaiting him will be Japan’s Inoue (13-0-1, 7KOs), who makes his stateside debut ahead of his first title challenge. The bout will also represent his first outside of Asia and just the second time away from his home country, the lone exception coming in a Sept. ’16 stay-busy win on a club show in Thailand.
Inoue has fought just once in 2018, scoring a 12-round decision over countryman Yuki Nonaka in their title elimination bout this past April in Tokyo, Japan.
Mexico’s Munguia fights for the sixth time in the United States, all coming in his past seven starts. His upcoming title defense will mark his first trip to Texas, with his previous stateside appearances coming in Las Vegas and upstate New York.