Fightful Boxing Newsletter (4/11): Shields-Hammer Preview, Usyk's Heavyweight Debut, Lomachenko, Munguia

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (4/11) Table Of Contents:

1. Claressa Shields vs. Christina Hammer Preview (Pages 1-2)

Henry Cejudo Teases Potential Bout Against Alexander Volkanovski | Social Media Roundup

2. Oleksandr Usyk's Heavyweight Debut Set (Page 3)

3. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla Preview (Page 4)

4. Jaime Munguia vs. Dennis Hogan Preview (Page 5)

Claressa Shields vs. Christina Hammer Preview Part 1: Shields' Journey To The Top

There are many words the boxing community use to describe Claressa Shields: controversial, gifted, brash, fearless, outspoken, successful.

But there's one word she calls her herself and hopes to keep calling herself when her boxing career ends: G.W.O.A.T. (Greatest Woman Of All Time). It's a moniker she believes she is destined to reach and with her next fight against Christina Hammer on April 13, Shields is one step closer to becoming an all-time great.

The Flint, Michigan native has already achieved far more than nearly every other boxer, male or female, has achieved throughout the sport's long and rich history. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (the only American boxer regardless of gender to achieve that), a holder of multiple world titles in two divisions and a win against Hammer will net her perhaps her biggest accomplishment yet: undisputed champion.

With so much on the line, Shields isn't sweating the pressure that comes with not only fighting in the biggest pro bout of her career but do so on a nationally-televised event that could potentially be a breakthrough for women's boxing. In fact, she is very confident in herself of what lies ahead, even beyond April 13.

"I don't really put that kind of pressure on myself. I just know it's a great fight for women's boxing. I know that every time I perform, I bring the sport to a different height. My main focus is that I'm focused, in shape, healthy and that I'm mentally in a good place. This is not the first time I've been at the top. To me, it's still just another fight," Shields told Fightful in an exclusive interview.

The fight against Hammer concludes a feud that has been boiling over for nearly a year, with the road to undisputed being paved last summer when Shields and Hammer fought in separate bouts on the same card. After Shields defeated Hanna Gabriels that night, Hammer stormed the ring setting a confrontation between the two champions and now every major title is up for grabs on April 13.

In this current climate of sports where women have been given more opportunities to shine on a global stage, Shields vs. Hammer, on paper, has the perfect storm for opening new doors for women's boxing.

"Make women's boxing great again (laughs). I definitely think this is the fight to make women's boxing great again. I say again because there were some great boxers [in the past] but they just weren't on TV. I think with this revolution that we have going on right now, I think this fight will do great views and they'll be able to say women's boxing can sell just as well as the men and have a large following and I think this is the fight to do it. I'm hoping that after this fight, these other girls who don't have belts or have padded records need to go out and fight big opponents so I can have some more opponents and build themselves up so that when they come up and fight me that they have something to bring other than a big mouth. Bring a great record, good names on the record, get your name out there and I think it will be great," Shields said.

Like with her goal of become the greatest women's boxer ever, Shields is thinking about the bigger picture when it comes to women's boxing in general. Shields isn't just hoping for future superfights, she's aiming for something even grander: a pay-per-view bout with current undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braehkus.

"I think that the first pay-per-view women's fight will be between me and Cecilia Braehkus, if she's willing to come up to 154 pounds and face me," Shields said.

Even in her training camp, Shields been making sure that she can stay mobile throughout the fight and still be an effective fighter in the championship rounds as well as the opening bell. With Hammer having a two-inch height advantage over her, Shields has spent time sparring against taller opponents, including amateur standout Jared Anderson, who is one of the best American heavyweights at the amateur level.

"For this camp, I've been making sure I've go triple hard on my legs with the sprints, the running, leg drills, cutting off the ring. I've been doing everything to get my legs in shape just in case. She may say that she's going to stand in front of me and box, but she may run the whole night and I may have to go out and hunt her down and chase her and win rounds," Shields said.

One of the biggest debates in boxing today, whether it would be talking men or women, is who are in people's pound-for-pound lists. In women's boxing, Shields certainly has a claim to be at the top or at least near the top, and even though a win over Hammer would give her a strong case, she's not really focused on that conversation.

"I try to leave the comparisons to the people that make those lists. When you talk about pound-for-pound, you can't say that this person has 30-something wins and is undefeated and that means they're the best, pound-for-pound woman. It's about skillset, power and who would you rather see fight and when you watch them fight, you think, 'Damn, that's a really good boxer, she can jab, throw combinations, have good head movement, good defense and offense.' That's how you judge a pound-for-pound fighter," Shields said.

But with that said, Shields proudly believes she is women's boxing's best, adding, "Above all, I feel like my boxing skills are very superb and I feel like I am No. 1 pound-for-pound best."

After putting herself at No. 1, Shields also has her own thoughts on who follows her on her own pound-for-pound list in terms of skill. Shields believes unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor is No. 2, followed by the likes of Cindy Serrano (though she may have been thinking of her sister Amanda, a seven-division champion), Braekhus and even Mikaela Mayer, though she thinks no one thinks of Mayer within that context due to her not holding a world title.

That conversation can be left for another day and it is not the one Shields is focusing on. Shields isn't just thinking of being the best in the world today. No, she's thinking much bigger than that. Her ultimate goal is to become women's boxing greatest.

Shields vs. Hammer is scheduled to headline a Showtime-televised card from Atlantic City, New Jersey on April 13. The winner of the fight walks away with the undisputed WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine middleweight titles.

Claressa Shields vs. Christina Hammer Preview Part 2:

There are many words the boxing community use to describe Claressa Shields: controversial, gifted, brash, fearless, outspoken, successful.

But there's one word she calls her herself and hopes to keep calling herself when her boxing career ends: G.W.O.A.T. (Greatest Woman Of All Time). It's a moniker she believes she is destined to reach and with her next fight against Christina Hammer on April 13, Shields is one step closer to becoming an all-time great.

The Flint, Michigan native has already achieved far more than nearly every other boxer, male or female, has achieved throughout the sport's long and rich history. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (the only American boxer regardless of gender to achieve that), a holder of multiple world titles in two divisions and a win against Hammer will net her perhaps her biggest accomplishment yet: undisputed champion.

With so much on the line, Shields isn't sweating the pressure that comes with not only fighting in the biggest pro bout of her career but do so on a nationally-televised event that could potentially be a breakthrough for women's boxing. In fact, she is very confident in herself of what lies ahead, even beyond April 13.

"I don't really put that kind of pressure on myself. I just know it's a great fight for women's boxing. I know that every time I perform, I bring the sport to a different height. My main focus is that I'm focused, in shape, healthy and that I'm mentally in a good place. This is not the first time I've been at the top. To me, it's still just another fight," Shields told Fightful in an exclusive interview.

The fight against Hammer concludes a feud that has been boiling over for nearly a year, with the road to undisputed being paved last summer when Shields and Hammer fought in separate bouts on the same card. After Shields defeated Hanna Gabriels that night, Hammer stormed the ring setting a confrontation between the two champions and now every major title is up for grabs on April 13.

In this current climate of sports where women have been given more opportunities to shine on a global stage, Shields vs. Hammer, on paper, has the perfect storm for opening new doors for women's boxing.

"Make women's boxing great again (laughs). I definitely think this is the fight to make women's boxing great again. I say again because there were some great boxers [in the past] but they just weren't on TV. I think with this revolution that we have going on right now, I think this fight will do great views and they'll be able to say women's boxing can sell just as well as the men and have a large following and I think this is the fight to do it. I'm hoping that after this fight, these other girls who don't have belts or have padded records need to go out and fight big opponents so I can have some more opponents and build themselves up so that when they come up and fight me that they have something to bring other than a big mouth. Bring a great record, good names on the record, get your name out there and I think it will be great," Shields said.

Like with her goal of become the greatest women's boxer ever, Shields is thinking about the bigger picture when it comes to women's boxing in general. Shields isn't just hoping for future superfights, she's aiming for something even grander: a pay-per-view bout with current undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braehkus.

"I think that the first pay-per-view women's fight will be between me and Cecilia Braehkus, if she's willing to come up to 154 pounds and face me," Shields said.

Even in her training camp, Shields been making sure that she can stay mobile throughout the fight and still be an effective fighter in the championship rounds as well as the opening bell. With Hammer having a two-inch height advantage over her, Shields has spent time sparring against taller opponents, including amateur standout Jared Anderson, who is one of the best American heavyweights at the amateur level.

"For this camp, I've been making sure I've go triple hard on my legs with the sprints, the running, leg drills, cutting off the ring. I've been doing everything to get my legs in shape just in case. She may say that she's going to stand in front of me and box, but she may run the whole night and I may have to go out and hunt her down and chase her and win rounds," Shields said.

One of the biggest debates in boxing today, whether it would be talking men or women, is who are in people's pound-for-pound lists. In women's boxing, Shields certainly has a claim to be at the top or at least near the top, and even though a win over Hammer would give her a strong case, she's not really focused on that conversation.

"I try to leave the comparisons to the people that make those lists. When you talk about pound-for-pound, you can't say that this person has 30-something wins and is undefeated and that means they're the best, pound-for-pound woman. It's about skillset, power and who would you rather see fight and when you watch them fight, you think, 'Damn, that's a really good boxer, she can jab, throw combinations, have good head movement, good defense and offense.' That's how you judge a pound-for-pound fighter," Shields said.

But with that said, Shields proudly believes she is women's boxing's best, adding, "Above all, I feel like my boxing skills are very superb and I feel like I am No. 1 pound-for-pound best."

After putting herself at No. 1, Shields also has her own thoughts on who follows her on her own pound-for-pound list in terms of skill. Shields believes unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor is No. 2, followed by the likes of Cindy Serrano (though she may have been thinking of her sister Amanda, a seven-division champion), Braekhus and even Mikaela Mayer, though she thinks no one thinks of Mayer within that context due to her not holding a world title.

That conversation can be left for another day and it is not the one Shields is focusing on. Shields isn't just thinking of being the best in the world today. No, she's thinking much bigger than that. Her ultimate goal is to become women's boxing greatest.

Shields vs. Hammer is scheduled to headline a Showtime-televised card from Atlantic City, New Jersey on April 13. The winner of the fight walks away with the undisputed WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine middleweight titles.

The actual card is certainly an interesting one when looking at who is fighting. Of course the focus is on the main event, but a pair of heavyweights at different points in their careers will get the opportunity to showcase their talents.

First off is unbeaten contender Otto Wallin, who is making his U.S. debut on the televised undercard. Wallin will take on Nick Kisner in what might end up being a quick win for the unbeaten Swede. Wallin is currently ranked in the top five in both the WBA and IBF rankings at heavyweight and won the EBU European Union title in his last fight back in April 2018. Kisner sports a 21-4-1 pro record and is on a two-fight win streak. Kisner won the NABA-USA cruiserweight title in March 2018.

Right now, the main focus for Wallin would be to gain exposure and garner a following in the United States after recently signing with Salita Promotions. Knowing that he will not get a world title opportunity in 2019, despite his fairly high placement on the WBA and IBF rankings, Wallin’s focus in 2019 is to simply have a couple of fights, one of them being against a ranked competitor, before making a real push to fight for a title in 2020.

The co-main event bout is a heavyweight bout featuring undefeated heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin. Franklin will face former top-ranked amateur Rydell Booker in a 10-round fight. Franklin has won all 17 of his pro bouts with 13 of those wins coming from inside the distance. Booker, who once fought former world champion James Toney, was a rising heavyweight star in the early 2000s, but spent 12 years in prison and since being released, he has won three straight fights.

Outside of the Showtime portion of the card, there is one more intriguing fight on the card overall. The vacant IBF featherweight title will be on the line when Elena Gradinar and Brenda Karen Carabajal step into the ring. The fight won't be televised on Showtime, but it will be streamed on Facebook leading in to the main card.

The title's first champion was Stacey Reile who won the title by defeating Dahiana Santana in March 2011. Santana won the rematch later that year and made three successful title defenses before a new champion was crowned in 2015 when Jennifer Han defeated Helen Joseph. Han last defended the belt in February 2018 when she won a unanimous decision against Lizbeth Crespo.

Gradinar is an unbeaten fighter from Russia who has won all nine of her pro bouts since making her debut in 2016. Gradinar last fought in March 2018 when she won a 10-round decision against Olivia Gerula to win the IBF Intercontinental titleholder. Carabajal is on a two-fight win streak since unsuccessfully challenging for the WBO lightweight title in 2017, losing to Rose Volante by majority decision. It was Carabajal's second time fighting for the WBO title as she was unable to win that title in her first attempt in 2016.

Tale of the Tape:

Claressa Shields:

  • Record: 8-0 (2 KO)
  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5'8"
  • Reach: 68"
  • Notable Fights: Franchon Crews, Nikki Adler, Tori Nelson, Hanna Gabriels, Hannah Rankin, Femke Hermans
  • Titles Won: IBF Super Middleweight, WBC Super Middleweight, IBF Middleweight, WBA Middleweight, WBC Middleweight titles

Christina Hammer:

  • Record: 24-0 (11 KO)
  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Reach: 71"
  • Notable Fights: Tori Nelson, Kali Reis, Diana Kiss, Zita Zatyko, Maria Lindberg
  • Titles Won: WBC Middleweight, WBO Middleweight, WBO Super Middleweight

Oleksandr Usyk’s Heavyweight Debut Set:

The long-awaited arrival of Oleksandr Usyk to the heavyweight ranks has been officially announced.

Usyk, the dynamite Ukrainian who had undoubtedly one of the greatest single-year runs of the 21st century in 2018, will fight former title challenger Carlos Takam on May 25 at the MGM National Harbor at Oxen Hill, Maryland. The fight marks Usyk’s start to boxing’s heaviest division after roughly nine months as the undisputed cruiserweight champion.

The news comes days after Usyk officially vacated his WBA “Super” cruiserweight title right before a purse bid against former champion Denis Lebedev. It should be noted that Usyk still holds the WBO, WBC and IBF titles and at this point, it’s hard to see those titles be either vacated or stripped until at least after May 25, especially the WBO title.

The idea of Usyk still keep the WBO title at least is because he wants to make sure that his heavyweight debut goes off without a hitch. If Usyk looks good against Takam, a solid opponent and a tough out, then the plan would be for Usyk to invoke a unique clause in the WBO regulations that allow champions, depending on certain criteria met, to vacate their titles and automatically become the mandatory challenger for the world title in the next weight class up or down.

For Usyk, whose goal has always been to challenge for Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight titles, this is the most direct path to a world heavyweight opportunity this year. Joshua currently holds the WBA “Super,” WBO and IBF heavyweight titles and is set to defend those belts against Jarrell Miller on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.

While Eddie Hearn, who promotes both Joshua and Usyk, would like for Usyk to have more than one heavyweight fight under his belt before fighting Joshua, the truth of the matter is that Usyk could potentially hold the cards when it comes to negotiating a fight. That’s not to say Hearn wouldn’t allow for a Joshua-Usyk fight to take place in the United Kingdom this fall, but that’s not to say that matchup will in fact happen this fall, let alone this year.

Obviously, Hearn’s goal, if we are to believe some of his interviews, is to make a fight between Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder happen after June 1. But as we have seen from past dealings, a Joshua-Wilder clash for 2019 is nowhere near a guarantee and one would be better off looking towards 2020 for that fight. Before we get to 2020, Joshua will probably defend his title once more and there are a couple of options out there. There’s the aforementioned Usyk and also Dillian Whyte, who appears to be working with Hearn for the time being after a reported deal with Top Rank amounted to nothing. Whyte also does have a case about being Joshua’s next opponent assuming that he defeats Miller as Whyte is the No. 1 heavyweight in the WBO rankings and is generally regarded as the best heavyweight contender that doesn’t have any version of a world heavyweight title.

Usyk is coming into the division on the smaller side when compared to the size of the rest of the champions and contenders at heavyweight. Usyk is 6’3” while Joshua is 6’7”, Wilder is 6’8”, Whyte is 6’4”, Dominic Breazeale is 6’7” and Tyson Fury is 6’9”. Usyk also sports a short reach compared to the aforementioned heavyweights and that could potentially pose some challenge for Usyk.

We’ve never truly seen how Usyk would react in the ring to opponents who have a clear size advantage over him. Compared to the rest of the cruiserweights, Usyk is clearly in a stratosphere above everyone else.

Dealing with stronger opponent is not the issue for Usyk as his boxing skills and technical mastery pretty much overwhelms power punchers such was the case in the World Boxing Super Series finals last year against Murat Gassiev. What will be interesting is seeing him face taller and longer opponents moving forward.

We will not see that in his debut against Takam.

Of course, Takam is a terrific boxer capable of giving any fighter in the division some challenge, but like Usyk, Takam is also a small heavyweight in today’s era. One theory in the matchmaking for this fight is more Usyk to get his body acclimated to the heavier division instead of getting him the toughest possible fight. The big fights will come surely for Usyk so long as he defeats Takam.

So let’s assume for a minute that Usyk does beat Takam, but he doesn’t get the fight against Joshua next and will need at least one more bout before doing so (still the most probable option versus getting the title shot right away), there are a couple of fights lined up for Usyk.

First off, there is the possibility of a rematch between him and Michael Hunter who was announced to have signed a promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing on April 10. The two fought in 2017, but since then, Hunter moved up to heavyweight and has emerged as a potential contender after winning four straight bouts. Hunter is fighting on the undercard of Usyk’s matchup against Takam, meaning the idea of Usyk-Hunter 2 will likely be at least brought up in some way, shape or form.

There’s also a matchup against Alexander Povetkin, who once challenged for Joshua’s titles at Wembley Stadium last September, but was knocked out by Joshua. While this fight is intriguing on paper, it’s hard not to imagine that Povetkin, who turns 40 in September and coming off a knockout loss, isn’t damaged goods at this point. Usyk would likely win that fight fairly easily, but that fight doesn’t really give any real indication of how Usyk would measure up to Joshua unless Usyk does not look good in that fight.

Lastly, there is always the possibility Usyk faces off against Whyte, which could be a title eliminator for the WBO title and it is the best way to see if Usyk can take on Joshua in the future. An Usyk-Whyte fight is most definitely an attractive one and might even be a potential “Fight of the Year” contender if Usyk proves he’s a solid heavyweight against Takam. What might prevent that fight from happening next would be if Joshua faces off against Whyte after beating Miller and Joshua doesn’t get the fight against Wilder at the end of the year.

Usyk definitely has his hands full with his new journey as a heavyweight, but if Usyk achieves the level of success that he attained as a cruiserweight, it would be really hard not to name him arguably the first or second-greatest cruiser-heavyweight in history alongside Evander Holyfield.

Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla Preview:

Vasiliy Lomachenko’s journey to becoming the undisputed lightweight champion had to take a minor detour as he will make his first defense as the unified WBA and WBO champion when he takes on mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla.

The fight will headline a Top Rank on ESPN+ from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 12 which falls on a Friday, a rare day for Top Rank to hold a card featuring one of its two marquee names on its roster.

Originally, Top Rank had hoped to get IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey ready in time for a three-belt title unification against Lomachenko for April 12. That unification was put on hold, however, as Commey suffered an injury from his title win against Isa Chaniev in February and was unable to be fully prepared for the fight against Lomachenko. Instead of unifying against Commey, Lomachenko will had to settle for Crolla, his WBA mandatory challenger, as his next opponent. The hope from Top Rank's side is that Commey gets the opportunity to face Lomachenko later this year and unify the three titles.

To most fans, it almost seems like this fight is a foregone conclusion with Lomachenko clearly outclassing Crolla and while that could be the case come fight night, it is a bit unfair to completely rule out an upset from Crolla.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be a monumental upset if Crolla actually beats Lomachenko (and in boxing, anyone has a shot at beating anybody), but it wouldn’t come close to Tyson-Douglas levels of shocking. After all, Crolla is a former world champion in his own right and his first defeat to Jorge Linares was a close one on the scorecards. He certainly is capable of giving Lomachenko some trouble, but the way one can view how the fight will end up being could be similar to how Jose Pedraza gave a spirited effort against Lomachenko when the two fought last December.

Obviously, Lomachenko winning this fight would clear the way for the eventual unification bout against the IBF champion, but by the time that comes, Commey would have already fought and depending on the opponent, it’s no guarantee that Commey would be the IBF titleholder standing opposite to Lomachenko in the three-belt unification later this year.

If Top Rank plays its cards right, Lomachenko will have one of two potential major fights at the end of 2019/start of 2020. The first one would be against Mikey Garcia, who holds the WBC title, but that fight can easily be disregardable for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there’s no guarantee that Garcia will even be the WBC titleholder at 135 pounds as there is still doubt over whether or not Garcia will go back to that weight class after fighting Errol Spence Jr. this past March. It could be a simple case of Garcia not being able to actually make 135 pounds now that he spent significant portion of his training camp building up his body for 147 pounds. It’s incredibly tough for a boxer to bulk up so much and then go back down two weight classes without suffering any ill effects from such a drastic weight cut.

Secondly, the thought of Garcia having anything to do with Top Rank in that manner is very hard to imagine after the two sides had their falling out a few years back. I suppose relationships can be mended for the sake of business and sport, but there’s way too many factors to confidently say Lomachenko and Garcia will meet within a year, if ever.

The second big fight down the line for Lomachenko is one that is far more probable and easier to do and that is against Teofimo Lopez. Lopez is by far Top Rank’s next superstar waiting to bloom into the mainstream spotlight. Lopez is not only making tremendous strides each time out, but he looks the part of a great foil to Lomachenko, something that has been sorely lacking for the unified champion at this moment.

Lopez is an incredible knockout artist who has garnered a big social media following thanks to his highlight reel knockouts as well as his post-fight celebrations. Regardless of what one thinks of his chances of beating Lomachenko actually are, there’s no denying that Lopez has the “it” factor and is a fight that can attract casual boxing fans and even non-boxing fans, which is something that can’t be said about Crolla.

But going back to Lomachenko vs. Crolla, it’s easy to overlook this fight in favor of greater matchups down the road, but Crolla is certainly not a tough out and like Pedraza, he will make sure Lomachenko will feel uncomfortable in the ring at times, hoping to land a decisive punch that can turn things around for the challenger.

Lomachenko isn’t unbeatable. He does have a loss on his pro record (whether or not you think his fight against Salido was one scored fairly) and has been dropped by Gary Russell Jr. and Linares. But Lomachenko possesses that rare mix of intangibles, hand speed, accuracy and footwork (with adequate, but not elite power) that you only see in only a handful of boxers every 10 years or so. That combination of traits allows us to overlook some of the very few hiccups in his career thus far and see that Lomachenko is arguably boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter today. That’s the kind of fight Crolla has in store and it would take a perfect gameplan and execution of said gameplan to even stand a chance against Lomachenko.

Tale of the Tape:

Vasiliy Lomachenko:

  • Record: 12-1 (9 KO)
  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Reach: 65.5”
  • Notable Fights: Jose Pedraza, Jorge Linares, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Gary Russell Jr., Orlando Salido, Roman Martinez, Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa
  • Titles Won: WBO Featherweight, WBO Super Featherweight, WBO Lightweight, WBA Lightweight

Anthony Crolla:

  • Record: 34-6-3 (13 KO)
  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’8.5”
  • Reach: 67”
  • Notable Fights: Darleys Perez, Jorge Linares, Ricky Burns
  • Titles Won: WBA Lightweight title

Jaime Munguia vs. Dennis Hogan Preview:

After a breakthrough 2018, Jaime Munguia will return home for his next WBO junior middleweight title defense.

On April 13, Munguia will headline a DAZN card from Monterrey, Mexico as he takes on mandatory challenger Dennis Hogan. Munguia spent the majority of last year competing in the United States, but will now return to Mexico as a champion.

Munguia emerged as a potential superstar after his shocking win over Sadam Ali in May 2018 to win the title. Afterwards, Munguia had solid performances against Liam Smith, Brandon Cook and Takeshi Inoue, further gaining experience as he continues to grow into his role as an elite fighter at 154 pounds.

More than anything, a homecoming fight could be the icing on the cake on what has been an unexpected yet entertaining world title reign.

“The truth is I’m very happy to be coming back to Mexico as a world champion. This is the last place where I fought before I became a world champion and made all of my defenses. So it’s very exciting to be coming back to Mexico, coming back to Monterrey. It’s great. I love — the city has a great love for boxing, and I’ll be coming with all the desire to not disappoint the fans and give a good fight,” Munguia said in a recent conference call.

But of course, there are several questions that are constantly being brought up when it comes to the 22-year-old Munguia’s future. The first is when, not if, Munguia makes the transition to middleweight. With the rest of the 154-pound division’s champions fighting for PBC, Munguia is better off going to middleweight if he hopes to get the best fights possible. Even if that wasn’t the case, Munguia has always been looked as someone whose full potential could be realized by moving up in weight. As such, every fight featuring Munguia comes with various questions of a potential jump to middleweight.

Munguia confirmed that the jump to 160 pounds is coming, but what's not certain is when, but it is expected to take place before 2020 ends.

"I do have plans to move up to 160 pounds, maybe next year or for the next fight or maybe by the end of the year. The truth is we are still saying that, but I feel good, and I feel good making 154 for this fight that I have on April 13th. But we are considering a move up to 160," Munguia said.

Munguia possesses superb punching power, especially for a 22-year-old fighter who is dominating and dropping world-class fighters such as Ali and Liam Smith. The true intrigue is his size and frame, which is well above average for a junior middleweight. Standing at an even 6-feet tall, Munguia admitted that it does take some work to make 154, but nothing too strenuous that would be cause for concern. But in Munguia's own words, moving up in weight is "inevitable."

The other question with Munguia is when he moves up in weight, can a fight against the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin be made now that all three fight on DAZN. As far as the potential fight against Golovkin is concerned, Munguia said he would be up for a fight against him if the opportunity presented himself.

"Yes, we would be interested in that fight with GGG now that he is on DAZN. The truth is it would be a good fight for us and for the people. One year ago it couldn’t happen, but now obviously it’s a possibility, and if a year ago I felt ready, now I feel even more ready. So with pleasure we would accept the fight, but right now I’m focused on the fight that I have on April 13th, but after that with pleasure we would take this fight," Munguia said.

The interest in a fight between the two powerful punchers from the boxing community stemmed from the fact that Munguia was almost Golovkin's opponent for May 5, 2018 after Alvarez was suspended for failing two drug tests for clenbuterol months prior. The only reason Golovkin vs. Munguia never happened back then was because Munguia was rejected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to be Golovkin's opponent.

Golovkin would go on to fight Vanes Martirosyan in Carson, California in May 2018 with Golovkin winning the bout with a second-round knockout. When asked whether or not he was ready back then to face Golovkin, Martirosyan answered in the affirmative.

"I can say that I have the mentality of going forward and always feeling that I will get my hand raised in victory, so I feel I would have won, but nobody really knows what would have happened," Munguia said.

As for any future plans regarding that potential fight, Munguia's trainer Robert Alcazar said Golovkin is just one of many fights the Munguia camp have in store for the unbeaten 154-pound champion.

"There are plans. There are plans to have this fight, but first we have to go through this fight. But there are future fights. It will be one of those future fights. Of course you would like to have the biggest fights out there, and if GGG is the next fight, then it’s the next fight. But my part is to have Munguia ready so that when the promoter calls and asks him to fight somebody that he is ready to take on any challenge that the promoter decides is best for him," Alcazar said.

But while it's easy to overlook Hogan, who is being viewed as a fairly heavy underdog. Hogan did fight his way to get the opportunity to face Munguia, winning his last five fights since a 2015 loss to Jack Culcay. With that being said, Hogan claims he isn't one to be bothered by being the underdog or having to travel nearly halfway across the world to be able to fight in his first world title.

"To be honest, it doesn’t faze me. For me, first and foremost, it’s about winning every exchange, winning every round, and then after that, whatever happens happens. I don’t feel any pressure at all whatsoever. As I said, I have a faith and belief that my hand will be raised. I will get in there and give it everything I have, as I have in camp, and whatever will be will be. I’ve come this far on this faith and belief and my hard work, and I believe it will deliver on April 13th," Hogan said.

Tale of the Tape:

Jaime Munguia:

  • Record: 32-0 (26 KO)
  • Age: 22
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Notable Fights: Sadam Ali, Liam Smith, Takeshi Inoue
  • Titles Won: WBO Junior Middleweight title

Dennis Hogan:

  • Record: 28-1-1 (7 KO)
  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Reach: 68.5”
  • Notable Fights: Jimmy Kilrain Kelly, Jack Culcay, Yuki Nonaka
  • Titles Won: WBO Intercontinental Junior Middleweight, WBO Oriental Junior Middleweight, IBF Pan Pacific Junior Middleweight titles
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