In a matter of months, Jaime Munguia went from relative unknown to world champion, but his first test as the WBO junior middleweight was a success.
Munguia survived early struggles to knock down and eventually defeat mandatory challenger and former champion Liam Smith in Las Vegas. Munguia won the fight, which headlined an HBO telecast, by unanimous decision (119-108, 117-110, 116-111).
The fight started with Smith effectively landing his straight right hand in the first couple of rounds. Munguia was wildly missing his power punches, leaving himself wide open for Smith to land his punches.
Munguia did manage to land a few of his power shots in the early going, but Munguia quickly got the momentum on his side by the time the fourth round came around. Munguia eventually knocked down Smith in the sixth round with a left hook. Munguia would continue to pressure Smith as the fight progressed but the British challenger continued to put up a brave front and made the bout a close one.
According to CompuBox, Munguia landed 277 of 837 total punches (33 percent) while Smith connected on 198 of 702 total punches (28 punches).
The 21-year-old Munguia's rise to the top started in bizarre fashion. Munguia was originally set to be Gennady Golovkin's replacement opponent when Canelo Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol, but Munguia was rejected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission due to his lack of experience against top boxers.
Munguia then replaced Smith as Sadam Ali's opponent for Ali's first title defense back in May. Munguia quickly knocked out Ali, winning the title and setting up a fight between Munguia and Smith. This was Smith's first world title fight since losing his WBO title to Canelo Alvarez in 2016.