Jaime Munguia outpoints a tough Takeshi Inoue in 12-round slugfest

Jaime Munguia held off previously unbeaten Takeshi Inoue after 12 rounds at the Toyota Center in Houston on Saturday.
Jaime Munguia held off previously unbeaten Takeshi Inoue after 12 rounds at the Toyota Center in Houston on Saturday.

HOUSTON — Jaime Munguia’s star turn will have to wait.

Munguia retained his WBO junior welterweight title by unanimous decision over Takeshi Inoue. Two judges gave every round to Munguia, 120-108, the third judge scored the fight 119-109.

Despite the wide scores, the fight was tougher than most expected, including Munguia who complimented his opponent on his toughness.

“I was surprised by him,” said Munguia post-fight. “He did great. But I’ll take the title, I got the win, and that’s what matters.”

In the first few rounds, Munguia relied on his jab. He punched, bounced on the balls of his feet as he moved away. When he did that, he controlled the bout so long as the fight stayed in the middle of the ring. When Inoue, who was not only tough but strong, backed Munguia into the ropes or into the corner, he looked like the aggressor.

It was in those corners and on those ropes that Inoue landed punches that knocked every drop of sweat from Munguia’s head. But Munguia, still young at 22, never seemed hurt.

As the fight progressed Munguia increasingly focused on Inoue’s body. Like Munguia, Inoue also absorbed many shots to the head. And also like Munguia, Inoue never appeared hurt until the end of the 10th round. Munguia landed multiple shots to Inoue’s head who then staggered back to his corner after the round ended.

Seeing Inoue hurt after the 10th, Munguia reverted to his aggressive style of fighting. He focused on power shots seemingly abandoning what he’d learned while working under Roberto Alcazar: defensive and boxing skills. Inoue, tough all night, kept walking forward but was no longer as aggressive as he had been before the championship rounds. Often, he walked forward, used his arms to protect himself, then walked after Munguia to repeat the process. But no matter how many of Munguia’s punches knocked Inoue’s head back and to the sides, he kept coming forward until the final bell.

Munguia, the clear crowd favorite, thanked Houston and fans that chanted his name and “Mexico” throughout the fight. He said he would continue to fight at junior welterweight while also welcoming a fight against Demetrius Andrade at middleweight. “Yes, of course. I accept the challenge,” Munguia said.

Whether he stays at 154 pounds or moves up to 160, there are plenty of big-name opponents for Munguia to face. He must continue improving his defense and boxing if he wants to reach his goal of becoming the future of Mexican boxing.

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