This Saturday night on DAZN from Carson, California, WBO junior middleweight titleholder Jaime Munguia puts that belt on the line for perhaps the final time before he moves up to 160, and top lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia faces a potentially tricky foe in the co-feature.
Munguia (33-0, 26 KO) is coming off of a highly disputed majority decision win over Dennis Hogan on April 13 in Monterrey, Mexico, and has hooked up with a new trainer, legendary fighter Erik Morales.
At 22, Munguia has a lot of time to improve and become a star in the sport, but there are also just as many doubts that he truly has the ability to really reach the elite level. Saturday’s matchup with Patrick Allotey, a Ghanaian ranked No. 139 in the world by BoxRec, seems tailor made for Munguia, but Hogan wasn’t supposed to be any problem for him, either.
Munguia also will be fighting on Mexican Independence weekend, a traditional big fight stage, and he says he’s taking this fight very seriously.
“It’s very important to me that I’m headlining on this special day. It’s a big responsibility but it’s very exciting and I promise to do a good job for all my fans,” he said. “My trainer, Erik Morales, gets more out of me. I’m training harder and running harder. I’m going to give the best and I hope I can deliver the best to the fans.
“As a Mexican, I’m representing my country and it’s a huge responsibility but I’m happy to be taking it on. Patrick Allotey is coming ready to fight me and of course, I want to win by knockout. I felt really good during training camp and I hope to give a spectacular show.”
Allotey (40-3, 30 KO) is a 28-year-old unknown, even though he’s been a pro for over 12 years. He has fought all but four of his bouts in Ghana, and is 1-3 in those outings.
This is a massive opportunity for Allotey — if he can pull off the upset, he’ll jump from obscurity to world champion overnight.
“I’m happy to fight because it’s an opportunity to showcase myself. I love Mexico, I love Mexican fighters,” he said. “I don’t feel worried to be fighting in a card that is so important for Mexican boxing because when I’m fighting with a Mexican, I’m Mexican, too. And when the fans are shouting for my opponent, they are shouting to me, too. I can’t define my style, because that is something that you decide in the ring. In boxing you don’t need style, you need to think. I’m a well-rounded fighter. I’m ready.”
For Munguia, this fight is about reestablishing himself as a top guy at 154, even as he’s already looking north to 160. If he can perform better here than he did against Hogan — even considering Allotey, on paper, is not as good as Hogan was on paper coming into the Munguia fight in Mexico — then he can look for a big payday again with some form of buzz behind him.
The co-feature between 21-year-old social media sensation Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15 KO) and Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow (10-1, 3 KO) is perhaps the more intriguing of the two top fights on the bill.
Garcia is young and talented, but as always, there are still questions. He remains very much in the prospect stage of his career, and the matchmaking has been careful thus far — not too soft, as he’s faced some decent veteran fighters like Carlos Morales and Jayson Zelez, but always with the goal of showcasing Garcia in mind and guiding his career as he learns his trade.
Sparrow, 25, has one loss, but it was a disqualification back in 2015, and he’s coming off of a career-best win over veteran Hank Lundy on March 15 in an all-Philly battle.
“I feel good because I get another chance to show everyone that I’m a better fighter and that’s all I can ask for,” Garcia said. “During fight week I get excited and anxious, I just want to be in the ring. I feel like he doesn’t have the power to knock me out but he has the power to make me aware.
“I have a competitive spirit. I never get angry in the ring, I always make it about boxing. Even my coach says, ‘when you’re outside the ring you’re a boy, and in the ring, you turn into something else.’ No matter what, you have to work hard.”
Garcia, like Munguia, is aiming to impress on Saturday, but they’re in different positions. Munguia has a world title but some of the wind has been taken out of his sails. Garcia is going to be out there still trying to prove to the doubters that he’s for real, that he’s more than an Instagram account, which is a frankly unfair criticism — he clearly can fight — but the sort that hangs over his career right now.
Elsewhere on the card, Franchon Crews-Dezurn (5-1, 2 KO) will defend her WBC super middleweight title against Alejandra Jimenez (12-0-1, 9 KO), and exciting lightweight Romero Duno (20-1, 15 KO) will face Ivan Delgado (13-2-2, 6 KO) in a 10-round bout.
“I’ve been a part of the movement of women in boxing and I’m doing my best to add to it so that women’s boxing can gain more respect,” Crews-Dezurn said. “Hopefully (Jimenez) did her homework on me. I do this for life and she does it for play. I’m here to fight and we’re going to have fun. I’ve been putting in a lot, I’m proud of myself.”
“I know this is an event where the majority of the fighters are Mexican, but I’m happy to be a part of the event,” said Duno, a Filipino now based in Los Angeles. “I’ll show my best, because I’m confident about myself. I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past. I’ve learned from my mistakes in my last fight and the fans can expect a good fight. About my opponent, I know he hasn’t fought in a while and he wants to give a good show.”
“I feel ready for the fight and what it’s going to bring,” Delgado said. “I’m a determined fighter and for Saturday, the one who makes less mistakes is going to win.”