SADAM ALI didn’t have to wait long for a replacement opponent following the withdrawal of England’s Liam Smith. The WBO super-welterweight champion was told, shortly after news of Smith’s illness broke, that he will now be defending his belt against Jaime Munguia on the original date of May 12.
The reason for the quickness: Munguia, ranked at four with the WBO and seven with the WBC, had been on standby and on the lookout for a fight for the past few weeks. There was talk of him stepping in for his naughty countryman Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and opposing Gennady Golovkin on May 5, but that option would have required the Mexican moving up from his natural 154-pound division and tackling a monster middleweight on relatively short notice. In short: it was ill-advised at best, dangerous at worst. This shot against Ali, however, is presumably more to his liking.
The 21-year-old has a beautiful record on paper – 28-0 with 24 knockouts – but has fought outside his native Mexico only once and beaten no recognisable names. All potential at this stage, it will be interesting to see how Munguia copes with a significant step up in class. (His performance will also reveal just how ugly that touted Golovkin matchup might have been.)