How did you assess Liam Smith’s performance against Jaime Munguia?
I thought Liam applied himself very well. He was getting his shots off early really well and I thought he boxed well. I had Liam up after four and level after six, but then he got caught with the left-hook to the top of the head which put Munguia in the driving seat but Liam weathered the storm. We knew they was going to try and stop Liam quicker than Canelo but we seemed to have got through it, and when Munguia came again Liam stuck with him, dug in and tried to come back late on in the fight.
What did you make of the scorecards (116-111, 117-110, 119-108)?
There’s no denying Munguia won but what’s gutting more than anything is the fight’s in America and people woke up [in the UK] talking about what could’ve been fight of the year, but two of the scorecards just didn’t reflect it. People [in the UK] could have woken up Sunday morning and seen that and it just doesn’t do justice to it, and that’s disappointing when you’ve got a kid that’s put everything into it, training camps, paid sparring partners. In the arena every time Munguia threw there was obviously a roar of the crowd, and Liam Smith was landing some brilliant left hooks and right hands and nothing was said. I thought the scorecard 116-111 was a fair reflection of the contest. How one judge could only give Liam one round, I just don’t get that. Everyone goes mad about sometimes the bad decisions that are given in this country against opposing boxers, but in America as we’ve seen with lots of bad decisions, they look after their own.
Does the wide scorecard possibly put you off fighting in the US again?
No, Liam loved it over there, he’s more popular over there than he is over in his own city [Liverpool] which is disturbing! But no, Liam is loved over there and they’d love to have him back over there.
It was a really positive start, but did the knockdown in round six change the fight?
Yes I think so, because we noticed when we were studying Munguia when things don’t go his way there’s an element of toys out the pram that comes out of him, and he comes for you to try and level things, and I thought we had got through that. I think it was round five when he got through it and we weathered the storm, but to then get clipped in the next round it was a real setback and it gave them confidence. But if you look at the scorecards, by then in round six we thought we was in it but we weren’t.
What’s next for Liam now?
Liam needs a break but I want him back out quick, Liam said something very good afterwards; that was Munguia’s fourth fight since Liam had last fought, and we didn’t get out to America until Tuesday due to visas and travel so I think that may have affected us. But I do want Liam nice and active when he is back.
It looks likely Munguia could move up to middleweight, if he does do so is challenging for the WBO title again the priority?
I think Munguia, going off reports out there, is going up at the end of the year so that belt will get vacated, and I need Liam to just get a win, like he did before Liam Williams when he went out to Barcelona to do a six rounder just to get a win. If that belt becomes vacant I want Liam to challenge [Dennis] Hogan from Australia who won a final eliminator against Jimmy Kelly, that’s what I want, I want Liam out whether it be a six or an eight rounder to get that win and push himself right back in there if that belt becomes vacant.
How do you compare Munguia to other world class boxers you’ve come across?
He’s young and very strong for a 21-year-old, but boxing-wise, Liam had the better skillset and I know I’m opening up myself for criticism but Liam had the better skill set and array of shots. I just thought Munguia’s power, strength, and youth was the difference. Liam showed in the earlier rounds he had the better skillset and for a tall kid Liam Smith was out-jabbing him, and I said in the corner where they expected it up close to suit Liam it suited Munguia. When it was at distance it suited Liam, he was beating him with the straight shots, the jabs and the right hands he had more success. He’s a world champion, but he still has a lot of developing to do, he’s learning on the job and he needs to be kept away from Canelo.