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Liam Smith: Jaime Munguia wasn’t much better than me

Image: Liam Smith: Jaime Munguia wasn’t much better than me

By Scott Gilfoid: Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith was in denial after his 12 round unanimous decision defeat to WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Smith was saying afterwards that Munguia wasn’t much better than him, which an incredible thing to say because the fight was not remotely a close one.

Smith hit the deck in the 6th round after being tagged by a left from Munguia. The fight was televised on HBO Boxing After Dark. Smith landed some shots, but he was worn down by Munguia in the last eight round and given a bad beating. What little power Smith had on his shots disappeared in the second half after he gassed.

Smith was trounced by the younger 21-year-old Munguia in losing by the scores 116-111, 119-108 and 119-110. The scores that made the most sense out of that bunch is the 119-108 score. Smith was out of his league against Munguia. Smith complained of being tired after the fight. He says he normally has good fitness, but against Munguia, he was tired. What Smith isn’t saying is that the only reason he’s done well in terms of his stamina in the past is because he normally fights guys that allow him to fight at a nice slow pace. Against limited slow guys like Liam Williams, Smith was able to fight at a glacial pace and not gas out. But when he fought Saul Canelo Alvarez in 2016, he gassed out after 4 rounds and ended up getting dropped in rounds 5, 7, 8 and 9. Canelo put pressure on Smith, forcing him to fight at a pace that his body couldn’t handle.

Last Saturday night, Munguia did the same thing to Smith in setting a pace that he couldn’t keep up with. The outcome was an obvious one after Smith faded after the third round. It was a forgone conclusion that the exhausted Smith was going to lose the fight. The only thing the boxing fans didn’t know is how the fight would end. I personally thought Munguia would eventually knockout Smith, but he wasn’t able to put enough shots together in a row for him to get the job done. It would have been better for Smith had Munguia knocked him out by the 6th round rather than the fight going 12 rounds, as it would have limited the amount of punishment that he took.

“I don’t think he’s a much better fighter than me,” said Smith. “It was the body shots that hurt me.”

It’s always sad when a fighter is in denial after they’re dominated by their opponents. I was hoping Smith, 29, would take the high road after he lost by giving the young talent credit instead of sounding like a poor sport. If Smith had given Munguia kudos for his one-sided win, it would have come off so much better instead of him babbling about how he feels that he’s not much better. I hate to be the bearer of bad news to Smith but Munguia IS a MUCH better fighter than him and he’s going to continue to be better. The bad thing for Smith is Munguia is going to continue to improve as he gets older. He’s only 21-years-old and hasn’t reached the pinnacle of his game yet. Munguia still hasn’t gained his full power that he’ll have later. I’m not sure how much stronger Munguia will become, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s 25 percent more powerful by the time he hits his mid-20s.

Smith was trying to capture his old World Boxing Organization 154lb title that he lost to Saul Canelo Alvarez by a 9th round knockout two years ago in September 2016 in a loss in Arlington, Texas. Smith thought he could win back his title, but it wasn’t meant to be. This is was perhaps Smith’s last chance to become a world champion at junior middleweight again, because he’s not going to beat the other two world champions at 154 in IBF/WBA champion Jarrett Hurd and WBC champion Jermell Charlo. Those guys would have surely knocked Smith into the stratosphere with their powerful shots. They would have jumped on Smith and finished him off straightaway rather than stringing out the fight over 12 rounds the way that Munguia did.

”I wanted the title I lost two years ago. I want to stay more active than before. I’m usually known for my fitness, but was I winded in this fight. I felt my skill level made the difference in certain parts,” Smith said.

Smith tried his best but his best wasn’t good enough against the more talented Munguia. It’s not the end of the world for Smith. He can still be a good gatekeeper or domestic level junior middleweight. There’s nothing wrong with Smith fighting at that level. A lot of fighters are scraping it out at the domestic level. If Smith can put together another four or five quick victories over decent level opposition, the WBO will likely give him another No.1 ranking and he’ll be able to get a third world title shot. It’s doubtful the WBO will let Smith a No.1 mandatory spot after just three fights like they did after his loss to Canelo Alvarez in 2016, but I think he can get the top spot if he wins five consecutive victories. Smith can help himself if he faces some of the top contenders in the WBO’s top 15 like Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Tony Harrison, Dennis Hogan, Brandon Cook, Takeshi Inoue and Erislandy Lara. If Smith beats at least two of those guys, he’ll be No.1 in no time. I’m just not certain that Smith can beat any of those fighters. Harrison, Khan, Brook and Lara would all likely beat Smith. He should probably avoid those guys and focus on fighting Hogan, Cook and Inoue.

“I didn’t win by knockout like I always,” Munguia said. “This is the fifth decision win of my career. We will keep learning because this gave me a lot of experience. I’m only 21 years old. Liam Smith is a warrior. He is strong. There were times where I really landed punches, which really backed him up. He’s very strong and can take a punch.”

Smith did a good job of taking Munguia’s best power shots in the fight. Munguia was wasting a lot of time targeting Smith’s head. He should have learned from Smith’s loss to Canelo that you don’t want to hit him in the head, because he can take punches upstairs. The shots that Smith can’t handle are body shots. He’s utterly vulnerable when he gets hit to the body. During Munguia’s best moments in the fight, he was hurting Smith with body shots. The mistake Munguia made was him head-hunting too much against Smith, whose head was like a brick with the way he was able to take the shots.

Alberto “Explosivo” Machado (20-0, 16 KOs) put in a good performance in successfully defending his WBA Super Featherweight World Title in defeating Rafael “Sweet Pea” Mensah (31-1, 23 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. The scores for the mismatch were 120-107, 120-107 and 120-107. Mensah was knocked down in the 1st round. He was able to stay on his feet for the remainder of the one-sided match. This is a fight that should have never been made. If the WBA had done a better job of ranking because Mensay didn’t belong inside the ring with Machado.

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