IT looks as though Liam Smith will finally get his shot at the WBO super-welterweight title in late July.
That’s the plan according to champion, Jaime Munguia, who stepped in for Smith on May 12 and dethroned then-champion Sadam Ali in four one-sided rounds. Now in the hot seat, the 21-year-old from Mexico has earmarked July 21 and July 28 as possible dates for his first defence.
“We are going to fight on July 21 or 28,” he told ESPN Deportes. “I already started running this week. I have a good rhythm to fight and I do not want to waste it.
“I think that next week we will return to the gym in a stronger way. This week has been crazy.
“Regarding Liam Smith, I feel he is a fighter who does not have a big name, but he is a very experienced fighter who fought with the best of the division, including Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
“But I think I have what it takes to beat him. I always put in a good preparation, physical and mentally. I’m sure that it will be a great fight.”
Something of an unknown quantity a month ago, Munguia, having destroyed Ali, has now emerged as one of the most exciting and powerful young talents on the scene. He is 29-0, with 25 of those wins coming inside the distance, and would seem to present Liam Smith with a far tougher challenge than Ali, the man he stunned in New York.
Also set to appear in late July is Amir Khan, the comeback king, the man last seen bum-rushing and battering poor Phil Lo Greco inside 39 seconds at the Echo Arena, Liverpool.
That’s according to Eddie Hearn, his latest promoter, who is as keen as everyone else to see Khan fight his long-time British rival Kell Brook, but, equally, knows their schedules first need to line up.
“It’s looking like July 28 possibly at the O2 Arena,” Hearn told Shaun Brown at BoxingScene, before revealing he also likes the idea of Khan fighting in Birmingham. “We haven’t been there for over a year. The venue hasn’t been available. I think Amir would go down well in Birmingham. Obviously, we sold out the Echo (Arena, Liverpool) last time. If we can put on a good fight, with a really strong Midlands undercard, I think it would do really well there.
“Amir needs rounds. If he’s going to dive in to a Brook fight, or any big fight, he needs some rounds. So we need someone who’s going to excite the fans and the public, and also give Amir Khan a solid test. Same for Brook as well.”
Brook is also on the mend – physically, mentally, emotionally. He, like Khan, got back into the swing of things, found his feet again, via a two-round dismissal of Sergey Rabchencko in March. And while the result hardly put the super-welterweight division on red alert, it at least got Brook back in the win column following back-to-back – as well as brutal – stoppages against Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr.
“With Kell, he really likes the Jarrett Hurd fight,” Hearn said. “It’s a very tough fight, it’s a great fight, but I would like to see him have one more because he got a round and a half against Rabchenko.
“He feels great at 154lbs. Jarrett Hurd (the WBA and IBF super-welterweight champion) is a huge super-welterweight, and Kell is just a normal super-welterweight. It’s really taking another massive challenge and Jarrett Hurd, while he’s a brilliant fighter, hasn’t yet got the profile in the States for that to be a huge payday. And obviously the focus for Kell is Amir Khan. That’s the one we want, and everybody wants, for December.”
Frankly, it’s the one we wanted last year and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that. Which is why if it doesn’t happen this year, whether in December or at any other time, you have to start questioning if it will ever happen at all.