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MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: MUNGUIA, OPETAIA, OVERHYPED UK FIGHTERS

By Paul Magno | January 25, 2024
MAGNO'S BULGING MAIL SACK: MUNGUIA, OPETAIA, OVERHYPED UK FIGHTERS

Every Thursday, FightHype makes some space among its video content to host boxing’s most NSFW mail bag column-- Mine. In this week’s Sack, I address comments/questions regarding Jaime Munguia,  Jai Opetaia, and overhyped UK fighters.

Overhyped UK Fighters

Hi Paul,

Thank you for your article on 01/15/24 where you laid out how overhyped the UK fighters are. I have been saying for years how 95% of their top talent is simply “decent” fighters. I considered Andre Berto a decent fighter a decade ago and that’s how I view their top fighters over there. Those UK fighters are decent enough to have a respectable showing but they could and do most times get mauled like Shawn Porter did Berto “when they step up in competition.” I listen to a lot of UK sports talk and I can tell you that they are huge on participation trophies. They live by the motto “as long as you gave it your all, mate” let’s celebrate regardless of the outcome. 

– Quintin Banks

Hey Quintin.

Like I wrote before, fighters are being overhyped in every country, but the UK has turned it into an art form. There are a couple of reasons for that IMO. First, many Brits tend to have an overblown degree of hubris when it comes to their place in the food chain, whether it be in sports or in other areas. It’s the “we used to rule the world” distorted pride of a people who no longer rule the world. Second, the UK boxing media is very strong and they thrive inside their bubble. So, you combine the two factors-- excessive, distorted pride and disproportionately strong media representation-- and you get a media crew that blindly believes in its own fighters and hard-sells them like crazy. UK fans bathe in the hype and walk away with a similarly unrealistic view of their fighters and their fighters’ place in the sport. 

I’m not trying to rain on any parades or take dumps in any punch bowls, but reality is reality. Most of these UK fighters hyped as world class elites are not that great. They are very good regional talents, but, often, just second-tier world stage fighters who’ve gotten titles and rankings based on a weak level of opposition coming up and their promoters’ ability to convert media hype into rankings. 

And then, as you pointed out, when they fail, fans and media fall back on the “well, he was tough” cover. Whatever. It’s not THAT big of a deal, but it can be pretty annoying when UK fighter X gets all the glorious write-ups leading into a fight where you just know he’s going to be pounded into Yorkshire Pudding. 

Munguia, Opetaia 

Hello Paul

I hope you're having a terrific 2024 so far, now lets get into it:

-Jaime Munguia, I got the feeling he might perform better than expected. I know he has been under-performing since his TKO win vs Sadam Ali, but I always thought that he paired with the incorrect trainers. Both Alcazar and Morales preach technique and defense, Munguia is not that fighter. ¨[Freddie] Roach has the opportunity now to bring back that offensive beast he was when we saw him 6 years ago, I really liked what Roach accomplished with Cotto back in 2013-2015 (Altough Cotto was a complete fighter). He brought the beast out of him.

If we see the same Munguia I believe he will win by a SD fight where Ryder exposes his defects just like Derevyachenko did.

-I had the opportunity to watch Jai Opetaia on You Tube, I gotta say he looks like a guy who was trained by Emanuel Steward. He throws the 1-2 with a beautiful technique. I also saw his fight against Mairis Breidis and, boy, during the first round I thought Opetaia was going to KO him, but Breidis showed resilience and caught him with some power shots during the championship rounds. I expect a good fight out of the rematch, what do you think of Opetaia?

Best Regards.

– Miguel

Hey Miguel.

I think Munguia will beat Ryder and look better doing it, mostly because Ryder is pretty bad. Canelo half-assed his way through Ryder and won almost every second of every round. Munguia-Ryder will be way closer than Canelo-Ryder-- and there will be the slightest chance of an upset-- but Munguia will win. 

Personally, I hopped off the Munguia bandwagon a long time ago. Rather than advancing and developing as a fighter, he’s been regressing-- and the continued atrophying of his skills has been evident in each of his recent fights, probably dating back to his bout with Liam Smith (and he was never really a “skills” fighter in the first place). A slow-cooked career doesn’t bother me, especially for a guy who arrived on the world stage as a very green 22-year-old. But what should’ve been five years’ worth of developmental fights have clearly not produced a lot of development. I don’t think he has much left, other than a solid punch (diminished a bit by his move up in weight), youthful confidence, and general toughness. Could this all be about having the wrong trainer? Possibly. But I tend to think it’s more about Munguia being in the wrong state of mind, a kid who came out of nowhere and suddenly finds himself with money and celebrity (and a promoter willing to book him against fall guys in ten of his last twelve contests). We’ll see if he can find the right state of mind before a “gimme” fight turns into an ugly loss and a career disaster.

Opetaia is a tremendous talent. That much is obvious. Aside from his fight with Breidis, however, his resume is paper-thin and full of tailor-made fall guys. As with all young talents, I’ll reserve my judgment until he steps up his level of opposition. He, for sure, has great potential, though. 

Got a question (or hate mail) for Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack? The best of the best gets included in the weekly mailbag segment right here at FightHype. Send your stuff here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com.

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