On paper, the Jaime Munguia vs. Takeshi Inoue card didn’t seem very appealing.
Oh sure, Munguia, a 22-year-old world champion who already seems obsessed with someday fighting Canelo Alvarez, is a legitimate draw in the sport.
The 7,408 fans who showed up to watch him fight on Saturday night at the Toyota Center in Houston could certainly attest to that.
But Inoue didn’t appear to be a serious contender on paper, and the undercard was stacked with fights that didn’t generate very much prefight buzz at all, especially in comparison to Keith Thurman’s comeback card in Brooklyn against Josesito Lopez featuring the likes of heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki and former title challenger Gerald Washington.
Even the one thing that might seem pretty cool to go see was ripped from the Munguia-Inoue card just days before the fight. If you haven’t heard of James “The Beast” Wilson, you soon will. Wilson is a former mixed martial artist turned heavyweight boxer who seems to at least have a really good publicist on the team who gets people all over the internet talking about him being the next Mike Tyson.
That…or maybe he is the next Tyson?
Whatever the case, his fight was scrapped from the undercard just days before the event. So what we were left with was Munguia’s title defense vs Inoue, the featherweight battle between Jesus Rojas and Xu Can for a secondary title and prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. trying to keep his knockout streak alive after a cool dozen fights.
Before the fights started, I was certain this would be a bad and boring card. But after witnessing the fights from ringside, I know just how foolish that idea turned out to be.
On Vergil Ortiz Jr.
Sometimes you meet a fighter and he seems like a normal guy. But sometimes you meet a fighter like junior welterweight prospect Ortiz and he has dead and scary eyes that make you wonder if he found his way into boxing by necessity.
Regardless, Ortiz looks like the real deal so far. Promoters and managers make it relatively easy for fighters to win their fights on the way up the ladder, but they don’t necessarily make it easy for them to win every single one of them by knockout.
Against Jesus Valdez, Ortiz was presented with a solid fighter who knew how to move and could take a punch. Ortiz impressed with a sharp scrappiness. He’s an aggressive stalker type but he has excellent pivots and turns which lure his opponent into traps. What I love about Ortiz is that his combinations are fast and precise, and I love that he throws punches with such mean intentions.
Who can? Xu Can!
Xu Can wasn’t supposed to defeat Jesus Rojas in the co-main event, and the fight certainly wasn’t supposed to be a Fight of the Year candidate.
Those two things happened anyway.
Rojas carried the regular WBA featherweight title into the bout despite having lost his last fight against Joseph Diaz. Since Diaz didn’t make weight for the fight, Rojas kept his title belt which is a weird WBA rule I don’t fully understand.
Nonetheless, Rojas fought like he didn’t want to lose his title, and Can snatched it from him anyway. The judges had their work cut out for them in this one. From ringside, it appeared Rojas would walk forward the entire night until Can stood his ground and made him move. That happened after the first few rounds. It was a back and forth battle where each man looked at times to be in control only to see the other one storm back into contention.
This was Can’s second fight ever in the US. There was a small but vocal contingent of Chinese fans in the crowd who rooted him on to victory. CompuBox had Can landing 380 of 1245 total punches and Rojas landing 388 of 1329 total punches. It was truly a worthwhile experience to see Can shock Rojas, and the fight is worth a look on DAZN if you missed seeing it live.
Munguia Barely Wins Every Single Round?
Nobody expected Munguia vs. Inoue to be the brutal war it turned out to be. Munguia was in the fight of his life for pretty much every single round and the hard-hitting action included some of the best boxing action of the new year.
But when the fight was over, judges at ringside turned in incredibly wide scores of 120-108 (twice) and 119-109.
While that kind of thing can ruffle some feathers, it’s probably a pretty accurate representation of what went on during the fight. According to CompuBox, Munguia landed 311 of 998 total punches while Inoue landed 134 of 542.
So while it’s true the fight was hotly contested in each and every round, it’s also true that Munguia, with his movement, landed punches and overall better work rate, probably won just about every single round.
The scores turned in by the judges don’t cheapen Inoue’s epic performance, and they certainly don’t take anything away from one heck of a junior middleweight title fight.