Jaime Munguia Looking to Have a Huge 2019 after Fight Against Takeshi Inoue

WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia will fight undefeated challenger Takeshi Inoue this weekend in Houston.

Updated: Jan. 24, 2019 • 12:55 PM ET

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The Toyota Center will host this weekend's WBO junior middleweight title fight.

The WBO junior middleweight title will be on the line this Saturday, as undefeated 22-year-old champion Jaime Munguia will defend his belt against undefeated challenger Takeshi Inoue at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Munguia (31-0, 26 KOs) is coming off a second successful title defense, defeating Brandon Cook by TKO in September. The Mexican fighter won the title by defeating Sadam Ali by TKO in May last year, but he wants to add another successful title defense to his resume in his first fight in 2019.

“Takeshi Inoue is a strong fighter,” Munguia said via the San Francisco Chronicle. “He comes forward. He doesn’t mind taking a punch in order to land one.

“We have to be careful with that and come very prepared. We have to be careful with his right hand as well. We’re going to come very well-prepared on Jan. 26.”

Including Cook and Ali, Munguia has key victories over Liam Smith, Johnny Navarrete, Jose Carlos Paz and Paul Valenzuela Jr. The rising phenom has caught the boxing world’s attention and if he keeps winning, he could set himself up for a legacy fight against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. After Saturday’s fight, there could be big plans to move up to middleweight to fight either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.

"I don't think there is any pressure with being mentioned with names like Canelo and Golovkin," Munguia said. "I like this. It's fun.

“I’m happy to be in fights like this and to see that we are advancing. So, the truth is we are happy. I am conscious of what I am doing. I think I can move up to 160 pounds and fight any of the two. It's a risk because there will always be risks. Those are the two best fighters in the world. We would have to be very careful and come very well-prepared. I don't think it would happen soon, so we have to see what the future holds for us."

Inoue (13-0-1, 7 KOs) will fight for his first major title on Saturday after defeating Yuki Nonaka by unanimous decision in April. The 29-year-old from Tokyo will have plenty of added pressure against what seems like an unstoppable fighter at the moment.

“Fighting for a world title is something I’ve dreamed about,” Inoue said via the Japan Times. “I’m really excited. With this fight, I can accomplish something people said was impossible.

“(Munguia is) a strong fighter with good punching, stamina and technique, but I can match him.”

Inoue will also fight in the United States for the first time in his career, but he has the opportunity to shock the boxing world and spoil the champion’s grand plans. However, Inoue will have to put together a solid game plan to get the champion to the later rounds, something only one of Munguia’s opponents (Smith) has been able to do since 2017.


Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will also be for a title, as Jesus Rojas will try to successfully defend his WBA featherweight title for the first time against Xu Can.

Rojas will try to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Joseph Diaz in August, but the Puerto Rican fighter retained his title after the loss due to Diaz not making weight. Despite the loss to Diaz, Rojas knows he can get back on the winning track.

"This fighter is going to come forward, and everyone knows what kind of fighter I am,” Rojas said via Boxing Scene. “They are going to look for a big problem. This is my moment and I want to continue giving victories and joy to my people of Puerto Rico.”

Prior to the fight with Diaz, the 32-year-old Rojas (26-2-2, 19 KOs) was on a four-fight finish streak. He has key victories over Claudio Marrero, Abraham Lopez, Jesus A Valdez Barrayan and Kiun Evans.

“I learned a lot from the Diaz fight, and I’m ready to show my head movement and an improved game plan,” Rojas said via Boxing Scene. “Right now, we’re looking for are unification fights against the best fighters at 126 pounds. So after about six rounds, I predict that [I will] end this fight by knockout.”

The 24-year-old Xu Can will fight for his first major title and feels strongly about his chances.

"Since I learned that I can challenge for a golden belt, I am telling myself I can," the Chinese fighter said via the Global Times.

The challenger is 15-2 with two knockouts and most recently defeated Enrique Bernache by split-decision in September. He’s on a 12-fight winning streak since his last loss in 2014 and has never been finished in the ring.

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