Jaime Munguia doesn’t need to cling to a New Year’s resolution to be better at what he already does fairly well. Of course, having to train through the holiday season is a welcome motivational factor towards achieving that goal.
“Each year, I just try to get better and better,” Munguia (34-0, 27KOs) told BoxingScene.com ahead of his next ring adventure, a January 11 middleweight showdown versus Ireland’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. “This camp has been a good one, we are not doing anything other than training, properly dieting and allowing my body to rest and recover before doing it all again.
“There is nothing else to do but train, no distractions just the way we like it. Training through Christmas and New Year’s never bothered me, but fighting (six pounds heavier) makes it easier to focus on technique.”
His fight first of 2020 also marks a run in a new weight division. The unbeaten all-action star from Tijuana, Mexico managed five successful defenses of a junior middleweight title—all taking place within a 16-month span following his one-sided stoppage of Sadam Ali in May 2018. Not all of his fights were as lopsided, most notably struggling in a disputed 12-round win over Dennis Hogan last April in Monterrey, Mexico.
Munguia closed out his three-fight 2019 campaign on a high note, tearing through Ghana’s Patrick Allotey in a 4th round knockout last September on a weekend honoring Mexican Independence Day. The fight was his first under new trainer, Hall of Fame former four-division champion Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales, though the two spending less than two months together prior what became his final title defense at 154 pounds.
At 6’0” and still growing into the optimal prime of his career at just 24 years of age, a team decision was made to abandon his title reign and take a run at becoming a two-division titlist. With that comes a challenge in veteran fringe contender O’Sullivan (30-3, 21KOs), whose three career defeats have all come versus title-level talent in Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Eubank Jr. and David Lemieux.
It’s a formidable enough test to learn just where Munguia belongs in the middleweight mix, and what he still needs to do better in order to rise to the top. Of course, he’s already jumped out to a head start on the latter.
“I want to challenge any of the middleweight champions this year,” insists Munguia of a divisional crop that involves pound-for-pound entrant and box-office superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez as well as two-time and record-tying middleweight titlist Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin. “In order to do that, though, I need to get better at every part of my game.
“We are improving everything in this camp—better defense, hand speed and getting better leverage on my punches. That’s where having a great boxing mind on my team like Erik Morales helps. He makes sure we do everything the right way. God-willing, 2020 will be the year where it all comes together and we take over the middleweight division.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox