Frustrated fans and perplexed reporters have criticized Jaime Munguia’s level of opposition, particularly over the last year.
The undefeated Munguia believes they should be satisfied, however, with who he’ll fight Saturday night in Ontario, California. The Tijuana native considers longtime middleweight contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko the toughest opponent of his 10-year, 41-fight professional career.
DAZN will stream Munguia-Derevyanchenko as a 12-round, 168-pound main event from Toyota Arena (8 p.m. EDT; 5 p.m. PDT).
“This fight is a good fight for us and for the fans,” Munguia said during a press conference Thursday in Ontario. “Without a doubt, he is a great [opponent] to measure myself against and know where I am at in the division. … Without a doubt, this is the toughest fight of my career.”
Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko (14-4, 10 KOs) has lost three of his past four fights, but those three 12-round decision defeats have come against top middleweights in Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo and Carlos Adames.
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin was 39-1-1 when he and Derevyanchenko clashed in one of the most fantastic action fights of 2019. Derevyanchenko dropped a close unanimous decision to Golovkin, who won by scores of 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113 and captured the then-vacant IBF and IBO middleweight titles in October 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Houston’s Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs) defeated Derevyanchenko more convincingly than Golovkin in their 12-round fight for Charlo’s WBC middleweight title in September 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Derevyanchenko was very competitive against the Dominican Republic’s Adames (22-1, 17 KOs) as well, but he lost a 10-round majority decision to the eventual WBC interim middleweight champion in December 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The durable Derevyanchenko ended his three-fight losing streak when he unanimously out-pointed Joshua Conley (17-5-1, 11 KOs) in a 10-rounder last July 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 2008 Olympian has since turned 37, though, and will fight for just the third time at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds when he meets Munguia (41-0, 33 KOs).
Derevyanchenko didn’t hesitate to move up eight pounds for this opportunity, yet the Brooklyn resident realizes he has accepted a tough task for a 5-foot-9 fighter who was considered a small middleweight.
“I took this fight because Munguia is a tough fighter,” Derevyanchenko said. “I wanted this fight. It’s a tough fight. I want to fight tough fighters.”
Munguia, 26, anticipates an all-action battle that’ll entertain fans.
If nothing else, Munguia seems to have accepted his most challenging assignment since he defended his WBO junior middleweight title against England’s Liam Smith in July 2018 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Munguia dropped Smith during the sixth round and won their 12-round, 154-pound championship match by wide distances on all three scorecards (119-108, 117-110 and 116-111).
Munguia has knocked out England’s Jimmy Kelly (27-3, 10 KOs) and overmatched countryman Gonzalo Gaston Coria (21-6, 8 KOs) in his past two fights. He expects much more resistance from Derevyanchenko.
“This will be a great fight, a great war,” Munguia said. “I trained really hard for this event, and this fight will be exciting, with many punches, and Arriba Mexico!”
Most handicappers have installed Munguia as a 6-1 favorite over Derevyanchenko, presumably because of his size and age advantages.
“I do not worry about Munguia or his team overlooking me,” Derevyanchenko said. “That is a problem for Munguia and his team. That’s their problem, not mine. I am focused on the fight, so on Saturday we will see.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.