By Dan Ambrose: WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia will be facing Brandon Cook on the undercard of Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin on September 15 on HBO at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This fight is arguably a showcase fight for the 21-year-old Munguia (30-0, 25 KOs) to look good in front of the many boxing fans that will be tuning in to see it on HBO PPV. Cook, 32, was recently pegged to be an opponent for Kell Brook to face last July, but the fight fell through after the Special One suffered an ankle injury.
Golden Boy Promotions are trying to turn Munguia into a star, but it’s going to take a while, but perhaps not as long as it did with Canelo. Munguia is a good fighter, but he didn’t look that great in beating former World Boxing Organization 154 pound champion Liam Smith by a 12 round unanimous decision last month on July 21. The fight was more competitive than it should have been. Canelo has beaten Smith in a more impressive fashion in stopping him in the 9th round in September 2016 in Arlington, Texas. Canelo was a little older than
Canelo vs. Golovkin 2 will come with a very good undercard compared to their previous match last year. This time, the card will have the following entertaining fights:
– David Lemieux vs. Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan – This is a good match between a couple of hard punchers with limited boxing skills and a poor future outlook. Both have the chance of getting a fight against Canelo, considering that they’re signed with Golden Boy and they’re not too excited about matching him tough aside from the GGG fights.
– Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez vs. Moises Fuentes – Having lost his last two fights, Gonzalez needs a win in the worst way, and Fuentes is just what the doctor ordered. Gonzalez should have no problems winning against level of opponent at 115. However, that won’t change the fact tha Gonzalez is going nowhere fast at super flyweight. As soon as his management puts him in with the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai again, he’s going to wind up getting beaten. Gonzalez lost his last two fights against Rungvisai. It’s not that Gonzalez is shot. It’s more of a case of him not having the size or the boxing skills to be fighting at 115.
– Jaime Munguia vs. Brandon Cook
– Vergil Ortiz Jr v Roberto Ortiz
– Cecilia Braekhus v Aleksandra Lopes
The last time Canelo and Golovkin fought each other a year ago, the boxing fans had to settle for these fights for their money: Joseph Diaz vs. Rafael Rivera, Randy Caballero v. Diego De La Hoya, Ryan Martin vs. Francisco Rojo, Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Cesar Valenzuela, Marlen Esparza vs. Aracely Palacios and Serhii Bohachuk vs. Joan Jose Valenzuela. There wasn’t much there for the fans to see that made the want to purchase the card on HBO pay-per-view other than the main event between Canelo and GGG. This time around, there are some good fights. Granted, most of them are mismatches, but at least the fights promise to have plenty of action. There’s no question that the A-side fighters, Munguia, Chocolatito and Lemieux are likely to win, but at least the fights will have action for as long as the contests last.
Munguia-Cook should supply the boxing fans an interesting fight between two brawlers. The Canadian Cook (20-1, 13 KOs) isn’t a huge puncher, but he likes to slug it out as if he is a puncher. He has a decent KO percentage due to the low level of his opposition. His management tried putting him in against a better level opponent in Kanat Islam last year, but it turned out badly for him in losing a 9th round knockout. Cook has won his last two fights since then in beating Miguel Angel Suarez and Hector Carlos Santana.
It until recently, Munguia was a well thought of prospect, who had been facing little known opposition in Mexico and flying under the radar. Munguia got his big chance in being used as a replacement opponent for former WBO junior middleweight champion Sadam Ali on May 12 after Sadam Ali had to pull out of the fight on short notice due to an allergic reaction. Munguia came in with a week’s notice and blew Sadam out of the water in four rounds. After that fight, Munguia was suddenly in demand. It wasn’t just that Munguia defeated Ali. It was the way that he did it. Munguia unloaded on Sadam with huge shots in knocking him down several times in the fight before the contest was stopped. In Munguia’s fight against Smith, he did the same thing in hitting him with powerful shots from start to finish. The difference was that Smith was able to take his best shots to last the full 12 rounds.
Before demolishing Sadam Ali, Munguia was being considered as a replacement opponent for GGG to fight on May 5. Initially, Golovkin was scheduled to fight Canelo Alvarez on the 5th of May, but the fight was wiped out after the Mexican star tested positive for clenbuterol. Forced to pull out of the match due to the Nevada State Athletic Commission handing down a six-month drug suspension, Canelo was sidelined until his suspension expired on August 16. Canelo’s drug suspension turned out to be a huge positive for Munguia, as it put him in consideration briefly as a replacement for GGG to fight on May 5. The Nevada Commission rejected the idea of Golovkin fighting Munguia due to his lack of experience at junior middleweight. But the attention that Munguia received helped him get the fight against Sadam Ali after Smith had to pull out of the fight after suffering an allergic reaction.
Munguia has been a pro since 2013, and he’s only now cutting his teeth against world champion opposition. This is Munguia’s third fight in a row against a top 15 caliber opponent. Golden Boy is going to keep moving Munguia up until they eventually put him in against the lions in the 154 and 160 pound weight divisions like Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd, Canelo, Jermall Charlo, Golovkin, Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade.
Cook isn’t on the same level as Munguia’s last opponent Liam Smith. Cook is clearly a level below Smith in terms of talent, power and boxing skills. With the way that Munguia struggled at times against Smiht, Golden Boy likely didn’t feel comfortable enough to match him tougher against someone like Kell Brook, Erislandy Lara, Tony Harrison or Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams. Those fighters would al be tough outs for Munguia. He likely would still beat most of them, but Brook and Lara would be really tough outs. Munguia needs more experience before he’s ready to fight the better opposition. He’s never going to be as fast of hand as Canelo or as clever defensively, but he still has a lot of room to improve his game. If Munguia can make a small amount of improvement with his defensive skills, he’s got a chance to beat the likes of Charlo and Lara. Munguia is a body puncher, and those are the type of fighters that have given Lara and Charlo problems in the past. Golden Boy are likely to keep Munguia safe for the time being by matching him against fighters that they feel confident that he can beat before they start stepping him up. If Munguia can look good in defeating Cook, then Golden Boy will have a new star they can groom to add a second PPV attraction to their stable alongside Canelo Alvarez.