Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada on HBO a world title double header co-promoted by Golden Boy, Queensberry and Don King promotions broadcast on HBO. The headliner would be undefeated WBO Super Welterweight title holder Jamie Munguia against once beaten veteran Englishman Liam Smith. As the co-feature undefeated Albert Machado would be defending his WBA regular super featherweight title against little known undefeated Rafael Mensah.
In the main-event, Munguia started out with “Guns Blazing” very much like he had against Sadam Ali last May when he won the title. He threw every punch with bad intentions but failed to land many cleanly, challenger Smith tested Munguia and his willingness to stand his ground while not much more successful did show superior boxing ability. Over the next several rounds, Munguia applied constant pressure that had Smith moving backwards, Smith looked to slow the champion down by landing counter punches and while he did land often he failed to deter Munguia from coming forward.
There would be a knockdown scored by Munguia in round six after landing several vicious body shots to the ribs of Smith. Once getting up, Smith used his footwork to avoid the ongoing attack of Munguia. In rounds seven and eight, Smith boxed smartly making Munguia miss big uppercuts inside by using head movement that momentarily caused Munguia to slow his attack.
The ninth round would be a non-stop assault from Munguia, despite landing 49 of his 91 power punches, the champion failed to fulfill his prediction of stopping Smith. There would actually be a moment where Smith used a veteran tactic of “Playing Possum” to draw Munguia in so he could unload his own offensive rally.
That ninth round assault of Munguia would be his last “Full on Attack”, while he continued throwing punches until the final bell he appeared “Arm weary” and his punches became sloppy. His fatigue allowed Smith to mount his own offense and avoid the swooping power punches which were so damaging earlier on in the fight. When the final bell sounded both men were throwing punches and the crowd on their feet in appreciation, official scores read 116-111, 119-110 and 119-108 all in favor of Jaime Munguia who improved to 30-0 (25), after only his second career loss Liam Smith now stands at 26-2-1 (14).
While successful in his first title defense, despite not getting the stoppage win he craved Jaime Munguia gained something even more important than the title belt on his waist. He learned his capabilities of being able to go a full twelve rounds with a veteran fighter like Smith. When having gone only ten rounds once before and steam rolling every opponent afterwards, young fighters in that situation can become over confident in step up bouts. A fighter like Munguia at twenty one years old, gaining over twenty pounds from the official weigh-in to unofficial that gets hit often can be derailed quickly should the trend continue.
In my opinion Munguia has all the skills needed to be a superstar, he is at a crucial stage in his career where changes in his style and possibly division he campaigns at need to happen sooner than later. If these changes are not made, the physical toll between what happens inside that ring on top of taxing training camps could end a brilliant career before nearing its potential.
The co-feature between WBA Super Featherweight title holder Alberto Machado and little known undefeated Rafael Mensah was a one sided affair. It was apparent from the opening moments, Machado despite having eleven less bouts was the vastly superior boxer in every aspect physically.
With a five inch reach and four inch height advantage, Machado peppered Mensah with his jab then punished him with a follow up left hand. In round one, Mensah appeared all but down after being blinded by a combination that sent him to the mat, once up his legs appeared like rubber even on his way to the corner.
There would be no moments of success for Mensah, unlike Munguia who tired late in his bout against Liam Smith, no such luck would be had for Mensah whose face had become grossly swollen by the mid-way point.
At any point after the mid-way mark, in no way could I see anyone of reasonable mind arguing with referee Tony Weeks calling a halt to the contest. The corner of Mensah gave absolutely no instruction at any point in time. His trainer Stacey McKinley admonished Mensah who was horribly outclassed rather than looked out for Mensah and his long term career. While Mensah never stopped giving it his all and lasted until the final bell, he took more punishment than needed. There was never a moment, Mensah showed any ability be it skill or with power to that could have turned momentum in his favor.
When all was over, the final scores read 120-107 on all three judges cards in favor of Alberto Machado who along with retaining his belt improved to 20-0 (16) while Rafael Mensah suffering his first defeat now stands at 31-1 (23).