Smith predicts Munguia-Ryder winner and targets Benn, Eubank and Brook

Liam Smith will be an interested observer on Saturday when former opponent Jaime Munguia takes on compatriot John Ryder.

Smith fought Munguia back in 2018, losing a decision in Las Vegas, and the 27-year-old Mexican has since moved to 42-0 with 33 stoppage wins. 

“You know, obviously, I will be rooting for John, and fingers crossed, I hope John wins,” said Smith. “He is a nice lad who I speak to and is also a British kid. 

“[But] I think John has to change rather than Munguia having to change, and what I mean by that is that John has to improve his output to go with Munguia, I don’t think Munguia does.

“I know John may be the more natural 168 out of the two, but Munguia won’t be small by any means. I know John is short and compact and is solid at 168, but Munguia will still look like a 168 in the ring, although he is only coming up from 160. I think John might be tough enough to stand the power of Munguia but will he be able to go with the momentum and the punches which Munguia throws is questionable for me.”

So Liverpool’s Smith, 33-4-1 (20KOs), reckons activity and punch volume will be key, and while he is pulling for the Brit, his head says Munguia will win. 

“If you gave me a million pounds and I could keep the winnings, who would I be betting on? I’m betting on Munguia,” Smith explained. “I fancy Munguia just by his output and I’ve always liked him for that reason. Rounds one, two, three, four, he just lets them go. He gives no fucks if he has 10 rounds left or seven or eight rounds left, he just throws. Even in four, five and six and he is tired, he still lets the punches go and doesn't take a round off.” 

There is speculation that Munguia could be a future foe for Canelo Alvarez, who Smith has also fought, but Smith does not think the Mexican hope is the next best thing based on what he experienced several years ago.

“Is Munguia the truth?” Smith asked rhetorically. “No, to be honest. Maybe I have to share a ring with him again, sparring or fighting. When I fought him, I thought he was very novicey. Fitness and momentum beat me on that night. Not so much fitness, I was his fifth fight in a year while I had not boxed for 12 months. I pulled out of the Sadam Ali fight and he [Munguia] stepped in to fight him obviously. He fought in February, April and stepped in for me in May [against Ali] and fought me in July, so he had a lot of fights and a lot of momentum, good momentum. I had none. 

“It was the only fight ever that I have been looking at the ring cards from round four onwards. I just felt tired after four, it probably was one out of a few fights that I had a proper good start in if that makes sense. I’m usually a slow starter getting into a fight, that one started well but I just couldn't go with him when he went through the gears. But I don’t know if he is the truth. He is very likeable and honest. No one knows how talented he really is.”

Golden Boy have talked about Canelo and Munguia, but Smith reckons “it’s interesting, but Canelo is miles, miles, miles ahead of him in IQ.” 

Smith, who held a world title at 154, is staying at 160lbs moving forwards. He has not boxed since Chris Eubank defeated him in their rematch last September, and while he would be open to a trilogy fight with Eubank, he wants big names. 

“I’m looking towards a date in April and whatever fights anyone can produce for me I can have a look at and think about,” the 35-year-old added. “I have had a few interesting offers but none which I wanted or thought, get me back in the gym for. 

“I would ideally want the Eubank third fight, but if not Chris, I would want Conor [Benn], Kell Brook, or one of the other big names across The Pond, they put you in line for a world title. I know it’s hard for people not to look at the last fight. I don’t pay attention to it [against Eubank] because I know what went wrong, I know what happened and I know the reasons behind it. 

“I didn’t become a finished fighter or an old fighter in the space of six months with no fights in between. In January last year, I was the best middleweight in the world, but in September, I was basically being told I should retire. It doesn't make sense to me.

“I know what went wrong, I know the issues behind it but if I had a good camp, was in great shape and I boxed like that against Chris Eubank Jr, I would have retired in the ring. 

“I'm going to stay at 160. As I said, I basically had a lay-off right up until Christmas from September. The minute I got out of the ring [against Eubank], I just let my body heal. I had a very, very, very bad injury that was just non-fixable other than rest or surgery. Then obviously, I got a grade two tear on the bone in my ankle in the fight. So I have just let my body heal naturally.”