As expected, HBO has officially announced a July 21 card from Las Vegas, with newly-minted junior middleweight titleholder Jaime Munguia facing Liam Smith in the main event at the Hard Rock.
Munguia (29-0, 25 KO) exploded onto the scene on May 12, when he thrashed Sadam Ali to win the WBO 154-pound belt. The 21-year-old from Tijuana had previously tried to fight Gennady Golovkin on May 5, which was turned down by the Nevada commission, and perhaps for the better. Instead of facing Golovkin at 160, he got a shot on HBO the next week in his natural weight class, and made it count.
“I’m very excited and thankful with everyone that made this possible,” said Munguia. “I invite the fans to go and see me live or to tune in on HBO. I will defend my WBO title with pride and honor. See you in Vegas!”
Smith (26-1-1, 14 KO) is a battle-tested veteran and a solid pro, a former titleholder himself. The 29-year-old from Liverpool has won three straight since a 2016 loss to Canelo Alvarez, including a pair of hard wins over Liam Williams in his last two outings.
“To go to Vegas and fight for a world title is every fighter’s dream,” said Smith. “But it’s only an extra incentive to my main motivation — getting that WBO world junior middleweight title back around my waist.
“Munguia is obviously a dangerous puncher and I’ll have to be wary of him early on, but he’s never fought someone as good as me and a fully-fledged 154-pound fighter. I can’t afford to look an inch past Munguia though. He’s world champion for a reason and with such a high knockout percentage, I’m going to have to be my best ever. Unfortunately for Munguia, that’s what I’ll be.”
In the co-feature, Alberto Machado (19-0, 16 KO) will defend his WBA super featherweight title against Rafael Mensah (31-0, 23 KO) in a meeting of fighters from Puerto Rico and Ghana.
Machado, 27, knocked out Jezreel Corrales to win the belt last October. Mensah has fought his entire career in his home country and is looking to prove himself on the world stage.
“One as a fighter knows the sacrifices that are made to become world champion,” said Machado. “Because of that, I will defend my title with blood and honor this July 21. Rafael Mensah is the mandatory challenger, and he possess great credentials, including an impressive record. That’s why I’m preparing more than ever to walk away with my hand raise in my first defense.”
“I know Machado and there is no doubt I can beat him,” said Mensah. “When I saw Machado, I said ‘Yes, I can beat you. You are not somebody that can beat me. You cannot beat Rafael Mensah. I will come and maybe not knock you out, but I will beat you in boxing and teach you a good boxing lesson.’”
There has been talk of middleweight contender Demetrius Andrade facing Yamaguchi Falcao on the card, as well, but that has not been made official yet.