Banda, reggaeton, new-age Latin jams and traditional mariachi songs like Vicente Fernandez’s “Mexico Lindo y Querido” reverberated throughout Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson on Saturday night.
On Mexican Independence Day weekend, the music was more meaningful for the partisan crowd, as was the boxing.
Jaime Munguia, who grew up in the tough streets of Tijuana, walked into the ring with Mexican legends in Hall of Fame boxer-turned-trainer Erik Morales and boxer-turned-promoter Oscar De La Hoya in his corner. Julio Cesar Chavez, who won his first world title on this holiday weekend in 1984 at the old Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, was sitting ringside with another great in Marco Antonio Barrera, calling the fight in Spanish for TV Azteca, watching with a critical eye what the next generation of Mexican fighters has to offer.
The last thing Munguia, a super welterweight World Boxing Organization champion, wanted to do was turn in a paltry performance against little-known Ghanaian Patrick Allotey, who was fighting in the United States for just the second time.
Munguia didn’t disappoint. He knocked down Allotey twice in the third round and once in the fourth en route to an easy technical knockout victory before an announced crowd of 7,311.
Munguia (34-0, 27 knockouts) made easy work of Allotey (40-4, 30 KOs), stalking him all night and stunning him with thudding shots and combinations. As referee Jack Reiss counted to 10 on the final knockdown, Allotey’s corner stepped in to stop the fight.
“The journey getting here was hard but I feel really good with these people who came to support me,” Munguia said. “This is Mexican Independence Day [weekend] and I feel really good and I’m ready to go further.”
Munguia’s victory was his first with Morales in his corner as head trainer, months after moving on from De La Hoya’s former trainer Robert Alcazar. The 22-year-old tapped the fellow Tijuana native to help refine his punching prowess following a series of milquetoast performances that showed flaws in defense, waist movement and combinations.
Munguia showed signs of improvement Saturday, albeit against an overmatched opponent. A body shot dropped Allotey in the third, and after he picked himself up, Munguia attacked him again with a powerful combination that dropped him as the bell signaled the end of the round. Allotey survived, but not much longer as chants of “Mexico!” and “Munguia!” rained down in approval.
“Thank you of course to Erik,” Munguia said. “I learned from Erik to stay calm, but this is a combination of everyone that I work with. Step by step, I’ve learned a lot from all the fighters that I’ve fought before.”
Munguia defended his WBO belt for the fifth time, but now the plan is to vacate his 154-pound title and move up to the middleweight decision. Once the big-bodied Munguia gets acclimated to the 160-pound weight class and improves his level of opposition, his promoter, Golden Boy, wants to match him against Canelo Alvarez, the pound-for-pound king.
The card lost some luster Friday when Avery Sparrow, the opponent of touted Victorville-born prospect Ryan Garcia, was arrested hours before their weigh-in and the co-main event was scrapped.
Some jeers were directed toward De La Hoya when he was introduced over the public address system, a sign that Garcia fans who bought tickets were upset.