Undefeated WBO junior middleweight titleholder Jaime Mungia takes on former titleholder Liam Smith July 21 at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. The bout should help determine the future for one of boxing’s most increasingly scintillating weight classes. Both Mungia and Smith are solid 154-pound fighters, and the winner will be vying with the division’s other top fighters for supremacy at 154 pounds.
Mungia is ranked No. 5 by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) at junior middleweight and No. 4 by Ring Magazine. Smith is ranked No. 10 by the TBRB and No. 6 by Ring Magazine in the same weight class.
Mungia-Smith will be telecast live on HBO in the U.S. starting at 10 p.m. ET as part of an HBO Boxing After Dark doubleheader. The televised undercard features a contest between junior lightweights Alberto Machado and Rafael Mensah.
Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs) is a 21-year-old puncher from Mexico who has only fought twice in the U.S. over the course of his five-year professional career. His four-round destruction of Sadam Ali in May was his breakout performance, and it earned him instant credibility as a legitimate world class junior middleweight fighter.
Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) is a 29-year-old from the U.K. who held the same WBO title he’s trying to wrestle away from Munguia once before in his career. In 2015, he stopped John Thompson in round 7 for the vacant title in Manchester. He defended the honor twice after, stopping Jimmy Kilrain Kelly and Predrag Radosevic, before losing it to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2016.
Heading into the fight, people in the boxing betting world are wondering if Munguia can cement his status as one of the elite junior middleweights currently plying their trade in the sport. If he can, he’ll join other divisions notables such as WBA titleholder Jarrett Hurd, WBC titleholder Jermell Charlo and former WBA titleholder Erislandy Lara.
Entering the fight, Mungia is a heavy favorite with top boxing betting sites. Bookmaker Ladbrokes has odds for Munguia on the outright win market at -714 with Smith at +400. William Hill shows similar pricings at -588 for Mungia and +400 for Smith.
From a boxing perspective, Mungia appears to be the better fighter headed into the contest. He’s got good size and is a heavy puncher who outclassed Ali earlier this year in such a way that left many in awe of his pure potential.
But Ali was a career welterweight before winning the WBO 154-pound belt against a very old and reportedly injured version of Miguel Cotto in 2017. In fact, one could argue the only reason he was chosen as an opponent for Cotto’s farewell fight in the first place was because he appeared so beatable.
So while Mungia is heavily favored by oddsmakers and pundits to defeat Smith, most of the analysis is based around Mungia’s excellent performance against Ali, a career welterweight who wasn’t even all that elite at 147.
Ladbrokes has the fight to go the distance market listed at +160. Smith is a good enough fighter to go 12 rounds with everyone at junior middleweight except the very elite, so the odds suggest most people are betting Munguia is exactly that.
Smith is a solid professional, so when reviewing odds on the rounds market, it’s probably best to steer away from early round knockout predictions. Munguia has good power, but he can’t really be considered anything close to a knockout machine at this point in his career. Besides, Smith has gone rounds with some pretty decent competition.
The most likely result of the fight is Munguia by decision or mid- to late round stoppage. Smith is a tough enough nut to crack for the fight to go a minimum of nine rounds or so before it ends, and whether he makes it to the end of the fight will largely depend on how much punishment he has absorbed through the first half of the fight. Munguia was wildly effective against Ali, but Smith should present him a sterner test.
If anything, Smith’s stoppage loss to Alvarez in 2016 is a sign Munguia-Smith will go deep into the later rounds. Against Alvarez, Smith gave a solid effort and traded punches with a truly elite 154-pound fighter until he was stopped in the ninth round. Alvarez is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and junior middleweight is considered by most to be his best and most natural weight.
Ladbrokes has high value plays listed for the championship rounds. Wise boxing betting strategy shows choosing between Mungia at +1600 to win in round 10, +1800 in round 11 or +2000 in round 12--or splitting money between those three--seems like the most reasonably educated move for Saturday night. You can probably bet on the stoppage happening somewhere in there, and those odds are some of the most appealing.
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