By Jeff Sorby: Jaime Munguia will defend his WBO Intercontinental Middleweight title this Saturday, February 19th, against D’Mitrius Ballard (21-0-1, 13 KOs) in a 12 round headliner clash at the Plaza Monumental in Tijuana, Mexico.
DAZN shows a lot of patience with Munguia, letting him headline against the second-tier fighter Ballard rather than insist that he fight quality fighters like Zhanibek Alimkhanuly.
Munguia already had a gimme in his last fight against 36-year-old gatekeeper Gabe Rosado last November.
DAZN should be insisting on an upgrade in the quality of the opponent from Munguia rather than an arguably steep downgrade in taking on non-contender Ballard, who isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the four sanctioning bodies.
Should the 25-year-old Munguia come out victorious on Saturday night, he’d like to go straight into either a fight against IBF middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.
It’s unlikely, however, that Munguia will get a chance to fight of those two fighters, but he can always hope.
If not, Munguia and his promoters at Golden Boy will need to decide to continue to face opposition at the level of Ballard or go after the soon to be vacated WBO 160-lb belt against the dangerous Zhanibek.
Munguia hasn’t shown any interest in fighting the unbeaten Zhanibek (11-0, 7 KOs)
#1 WBO Munguia (38-0, 30 KOs) has received heaps of criticism from boxing fans for choosing not to use his mandatory status to challenge WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade for his title.
Many boxing fans believe Munguia and his promoters want no part of Andrade and are just looking for big money fights against GGG and Canelo, which you can’t blame them for wanting to do.
If Munguia’s chances of beating Andrade or Zhanibek are slim, he might as well focus on getting a bigger payday against Canelo or Golovkin and have just as little chance of winning.
Munguia wants Golovkin next
“Ballard is a good fighter, he’s an undefeated fighter, and it’s a challenge for me. I’m preparing for this fight, and I’ve never underestimated anyone. I’m not underestimating Ballard,” Munguia said when asked why he’s decided to fight D’Mitrius Ballard rather than using his mandatory status to challenge WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade or take on WBC champion Jermall Charlo.
“My preparation is as strong as anyone else, and everyone has got to have an opportunity in their career, and this is Ballard’s,” continued Munguia.
“We’ll see what he does with it. But for me, that’s my priority, and, of course, my next fight after Ballard; I can think about fighting for a world champion then.
“If the [WBO 160-lb] belt gets vacated [by champion Demetrius Andrade]that would be an opportunity for me,” Munguia said on the possibility of the WBO middleweight belt coming vacant when Andrade moves up to 160.
“GGG is a great fighter and a legend. That would be a good fight for me, and I would be ready for it,” Munguia said.
Golovkin has a fight in May against WBA middleweight champion Ryota Murata and then possibly a trilogy match against Canelo Alvarez in September.
Assuming Golovkin doesn’t retire after the big payday, he’ll get fighting Canelo; he might be interested in fighting Munguia in 2023, but not this year.
Jaime interested in Canelo fight
“Canelo is a great athlete, he has a good commitment, and he is very good at golf,” Munguia said. “In the future, of course, I would like to fight Canelo if we’re at the top of our divisions at that time. That would be a great fight to make.
“I’m coming with everything, and I’m training with everything. I expect a great fight from him on February 19th,” Munguia said about his fight against the 28-year-old Ballard. “It’s going to be a great fight.
“Yes, I did have an opportunity to watch it. It was a great fight for me, for my career, and especially for the fight fans,” Munguia said about his recent 12 round unanimous decision win over high-level journeyman Gabe Rosado last November.
“I’m going to keep working and keep growing from that and show a better Jaime Munguia on February 19th. I would like to work on my defense and work on the waist movement, keeping my distance.
“Also, I want to get faster and make sure my combinations are more defined when I throw them.
“We have a strategy to defeat D’Mitrius Ballard, and the key to that is going after the body,” said Munguia to Behind The Gloves.
“I’m concentrating on Ballard right now.” He is the priority. We have talked about the future, but right now, Ballard is the priority,” Munguia said on his fight this Saturday.
Munguia says Andrade didn’t make an offer
“I’ve never seen an offer from him [Andrade]so I don’t know where this is coming from,” said Munguia in reacting to WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade saying that he’s ducking him as the mandatory challenger.
“One thing is to say that you have, and another is to do it. The day that we do face each other [Andrade vs. Munguia]and there’s a firm offer from his team, that’s the day that they’ll fight.
“I don’t know where this is coming from because I just recently moved up to 160 [in 2020]. If anything, maybe two years, so I don’t know how that is possible that he’s [Andrade] saying it’s three or four years,” Munguia said.
Demetrius Andrade and his promoter Eddie Hearn have been vocal about wanting the fight with Munguia, so it’s unclear what he’s talking about in terms of no offer being made.
As he claims, Munguia didn’t just “recently” move up to 160. He’s been fighting at middleweight for two solid years since 2020 and should be ready to fight for a world title by now against the much older 33-year-old WBO champion Andrade.
“A fight with GGG would be a great fight, and a fight against any of the fighters that you mentioned would also be a good fight,” Munguia said. “It would be a good match for Canelo [against cruiserweight Ilunga Makabu].
“In terms of me fighting Canelo, there will still be some time because I’m at 160 right now, and Canelo is two or three divisions above me. So there’s still some time before a fight with Canelo can happen for me,” Munguia said.
It’s challenging to know when Munguia will get a fight against Canelo. If the contest is contingent on him being the best fighter at 160 or 168, it’s fair to say they’ll never meet.
Right now, it’s a massive reach whether Munguia will ever capture a world title at 160 unless one falls vacant if Jermall Charlo moves up Golovkin or Ryota Murata vacate their straps.
“I want to tell him [Ballard]let’s make a great fight, let’s make a clean fight, let’s make an amazing fight for all the fight-fans and a fantastic battle for both of our careers.
“I’m going to be ready and will be coming with everything,” Munguia said about his fight against 28-year-old Ballard this Saturday night on DAZN.