Jaime Munguia returns to the ring this Saturday night, and also will be fighting at home in Mexico for the first time since 2019, as he faces D’Mitrius Ballard in a Golden Boy main event from Tijuana.
Munguia (38-0, 30 KO) will be a heavy betting favorite, but we’ve seen favorites lose plenty already in 2022, let alone what we’ve seen the last few years. Though the odds may stay the same, we’re getting more sideways results than we did for a while, and Ballard (21-0-1, 13 KO) is a hungry fighter looking to finally make his mark at middleweight.
Will he do it Saturday? We’ve got our picks in.
Scott Christ (3-4)
Jaime Munguia’s a good fighter. He’ll never be good defensively, but he’s able to make up for it with brute force and what seems to be a very good chin. He can be out-boxed, probably — I’d say definitely and that Dennis Hogan out-boxed him, but Hogan more effectively spoiled than anything.
Ballard may be a better, more fundamentally sound boxer than Munguia, but I don’t think he’s quite a spoiler like Hogan — and also, Munguia has gotten better — and really, I think Ballard’s best attributes somewhat overlap with Munguia’s. Even if he intends to box more, which would be smart, I’m not sure he’ll have the skills to keep Munguia off of him and avoid having to get into a tear-up. I do think this will be a good fight, but I think Jaime stays unbeaten, putting away a game and tough Ballard in the middle rounds. Munguia TKO-8
Wil Esco (4-3)
Jaime Munguia is a really big, solid fighter at middleweight and this should be a fight that he’s able to handle rather easily in my estimation. This is not a real shot at D’Mitrius Ballard or anything, but I think he’s at least a clear level below Munguia in the skill department and he doesn’t have the experience to overcome the deficits he’ll be facing in this fight. As for Munguia, the real question many of us have is when he’ll actually be in a big fight. There are likely reasons as to why Munguia has largely been treading water at this stage of his career, perhaps due to an obvious ceiling his handlers see, but he’s at least king of the kiddie pool. I’ll take Munguia to roll to a second-half stoppage. Munguia TKO-8
John Hansen (5-2)
This is not the first time we’ve seen Jaime Munguia sell a heap of tickets for a fight in Mexico against an opponent seemingly hand-picked to keep him busy without threatening him too much. Back in 2019, Dennis Hogan frustrated and wore out Munguia with constant movement, and used strategic aggression from odd angles to take away Munguia’s desired straight ahead style. Very friendly judging allowed Munguia to escape with a majority decision, and even Munguia himself said immediately afterwards that the fight was probably a draw.
When D’Mitrius Ballard did his interview with our site, he specifically mentioned using movement and capitalizing on Munguia’s aggression to hit and not get hit. He’s coming off two wins against awkward opponents, and still managed to generate enough offense to earn decision wins. Munguia is a constant knockout risk and a greater threat than his recent foes, but a much simpler puzzle to solve.
If Munguia learned anything from the Hogan fight, Ballard shouldn’t have a path to victory. The question is: Did he? Munguia’s been fun and fireworks since making his name against Sadam Ali. But, have we seen any significant technical or strategic development from him? I can’t think of many, if any, other boxers as high profile and high-level as Munguia who are as invariably locked in to their fight style.
It pains me to pick against a Close, Personal Friend™ like D’Mitrius Ballard. So, I’m not going to! Munguia is a heavy favorite, and with good reason. But I have to give my prognostication pals a chance to catch up, so let’s get wild. I think Ballard has the discipline and extra power to execute the Dennis Hogan gameplan at an even higher level. If Munguia still can’t handle that, it could be a life-changing night for Ballard. Ballard MD-12
Patrick Stumberg (3-4)
This is one of those situations where the clash of styles turns a reasonably well-matched fight on paper into a foregone conclusion. Ballard and Munguia have the same wheelhouse, but Ballard’s ill-equipped to come out on top when they collide in the pocket. Not enough power, not enough defense, not enough footwork. He can neither dissuade Munguia from the point-blank dust-up he wants, dictate the terms of it to take Munguia’s superior physicality out of the equation, or slow him down once he starts building momentum.
Ballard’s best chance lies in his counters, particularly the check hook, but he doesn’t seem able to actually hurt Munguia; “Big Meech” has just one finish in his last seven fights. While the jury’s out on whether Munguia can handle a proper boxer, especially at 160, we know what he does to people who willingly mix it up with him. Munguia TKO-9
And the staff winner is...
Jaime Munguia (3-1)!
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage for Munguia vs Ballard on Saturday, Feb. 19, starting at 9 pm ET. The show will stream live on DAZN.