Jaime Munguia's future could be at middleweight -- is he ready?

Light heavyweight world titleholder Jaime Munguia believes he's the best fighter in the division. Bob Levey/Getty Images

When junior middleweight world titleholder Jaime Munguia was asked where he placed himself in the division, he showed a great deal of self-confidence.

"I would consider myself No. 1," Munguia said. "The truth is, and with all due respect, and I'm saying it with as much humility as possible, that I feel like I consider myself No. 1."

The consensus is that unified world titleholder Jurret Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) -- who has victories over the likes of Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and fellow titlist Tony Harrison -- is the most accomplished fighter in this weight class.

His next opponent is Australia's Dennis Hogan in Monterrey, Mexico on Saturday.

"Yes, we would be interested in that fight with GGG now that he is on DAZN. The truth is it would be a good fight for us and for the people. One year ago it couldn't happen, but now obviously it's a possibility, and if a year ago I felt ready, now I feel even more ready." Jaime Munguia

When asked if there was someone in mind he'd like to face -- should he get past Hogan relatively unscathed -- Munguia said he doesn't have any particular name in mind.

"I'm simply going to keep fighting, keep fighting good opponents like Dennis Hogan, but that's a question for my promoter Fernando Beltran," Munguia said.

Bottom line, Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs) is still at that stage where he will let his handlers choose his career path, and it's clear they still believe he's at the developmental stage of things. But that isn't to say they aren't willing to roll the dice with the hard-hitting youngster from Tijuana, Mexico.

Last year as Gennady Golovkin needed a dance partner for Cinco De Mayo weekend after Canelo Alvarez was suspended for testing positive for clenbuterol, Zanfer Promotions accepted the fight on behalf of their client before the Nevada State Athletic Commission nixed it, believing Munguia wasn't qualified to face Golovkin.

So the question is, with a couple more fights under his belt and another year of seasoning under his belt, will Munguia be truly ready to face the marquee names in the sport?

"Only time will tell. We have to judge him fight by fight," answered his trainer, Robert Alcazar, who is attempting to smooth out the rough edges on this two-fisted wrecking ball. "I cannot give you a date or time, but I believe that, in about a year, he should be able to be in there with the top guys."

Getting Munguia to fight is like asking a fish to swim. It's getting him to be a bit more sound defensively and be able to utilize his jab a bit more that is the real challenge.

But for now, Hogan (28-1-1, 7 KOs), who hails from Australia and is little known in the division, is the opponent to beat.

"This is the mandatory, so we didn't have anywhere else to go," Juan Carlos Torres of Zanfer Promotions points out. "The plan is for Munguia to fight again in September, perhaps on the undercard of the third go-around (of a possible bout) between Golovkin and Canelo. "Basically after this one we want to fight a Kell Brook, Jessie Vargas, those types of guys. Vargas is moving up but he's got a better name than most of the 154's."

The other reality is that the other marquee junior middleweights are under the PBC banner while Munguia is with DAZN. With all the politics in play, where Munguia may really be tested is at 160, where the likes of Alvarez, Golovkin, Danny Jacobs and Demetrius Andrade are on his side of the street.

"I do have plans to move up to 160 pounds," Munguia said. "Maybe next year or for the next fight or maybe by the end of the year."

"Absolutely," agreed Torres, who says that they have one clear target in mind for next year. "We know Gennady is doing his two fights this year. Once against whoever and following that, everyone believes it will be against Canelo. And after that, I don't know when his next date is, but I mean, who knows, why not? Let's do it right away [in 2020].

"Let's see how he looks in his comeback fight and then against Canelo. That's the fight we're looking at for next year."

Munguia seems to be all-in, with this possibility.

"Yes, we would be interested in that fight with GGG now that he is on DAZN. The truth is it would be a good fight for us and for the people. One year ago it couldn't happen, but now obviously it's a possibility, and if a year ago I felt ready, now I feel even more ready. So with pleasure we would accept the fight, but right now I'm focused on the fight that I have on April 13, but after that, with pleasure we would take this fight," he stated.

Perhaps facing a 38-year-old Golovkin was a better long-term option for Munguia than facing him at age 36 in 2018.

"Look, whatever I say is pure speculation of how the fight could've been, what could've happened," Torres admitted. "But I don't think Gennady has had a guy -- probably [Martin] Murray -- that stands still and trades with him. And recently we know that Gennady's been boxing a little bit more, the last Canelo fight, instead of going toe-to-toe.

"We believe Canelo is faster than Jaime, but we don't know if he's stronger and has a bigger punch than Jaime. We took the fight [in 2018] because we thought we could win. Obviously, it turned out better because he got more experience out of it, he's more well-known."

Since winning the WBO belt title in 2018 by punishing Sadam Ali in four rounds, Munguia has since beaten Liam Smith, Brandon Cook and Takashi Inoue.

Out of that quartet, only Smith is rated in the ESPN.com top 10 at 154 (at No. 9).

For the time being, most pundits consider Munguia a highly marketable and promising fighter, who just happens to have a world title belt.

In his last fight against Inoue, it was your typical crowd pleasing effort from Munguia, who bombarded the Japanese challenger with waves of leather but couldn't finish him off. But he also showed that he's far from a finished product as a prizefighter.

Munguia will never be a defensive wizard, but Alcazar aims to make him a more responsible defensive fighter within his offensive style.

"What I liked is that he put on a good show for the people, he won the fight with no doubts," Alcazar said. "Of course, you see things that he needs to keep improving on and you see things that he needs to keep improving on and you see things he is doing good, and we'll keep working on those things."