Mijares, Munoz to unify junior bantamweight titles in May

Updated: March 9, 2008, 6:18 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

CANCUN, Mexico -- Junior bantamweight titleholders Cristian Mijares and Alexander Munoz will meet to unify their 115-pound world championships May 17 in Gomez Palacio, Mexico, Mijares' hometown.

Mijares and his co-promoter, Nacho Huizar -- who both attended Saturday night's Samuel Peter-Oleg Maskaev heavyweight title bout at Plaza de Toros -- told ESPN.com that the fight was signed.

Mijares-Munoz will be the first junior bantamweight unification fight since Johnny Tapia won a decision against Danny Romero, his crosstown Albuquerque, N.M., rival in a high-profile fight in Las Vegas on July 18, 1997.

Mijares-Munoz will be televised in the United States as the main event on Integrated Sports pay-per-view. Junior lightweight contender Humberto Soto will fight in the co-feature, Huizar said.

Huizar's move to sign Venezuela's Munoz, 29, to face Mijares comes as a bit of a surprise because Top Rank had been trying to sign him to defend his belt against Jorge Arce on another potential May PPV card.

"They had been trying to get him for Arce but I was able to get him for Mijares," Huizar said. "It took money. A lot of money."

Munoz (32-2, 27 KOs), who will be making the third defense of his second title reign, is nicknamed "El Explosivo" because of his tremendous punching power, although he has gone the distance in his last three fights.

Mijares (34-3-2, 14 KOs), a flashy southpaw, outpointed Jose Navarro on the Feb. 16 Kelly Pavlik-Jermain Taylor II undercard in Las Vegas for his sixth defense.

Huizar had been in talks to match Mijares in a unification bout with Dimitri Kirilov, who holds another belt, but Kirilov was held to a draw in a title defense against Cecilio Santos on Feb. 28 and talks cooled.

"Kirilov had the draw and he was hurt in the fight," said Mijares, 26, who worked the Peter-Maskaev card as a broadcaster for Mexican outlet Televisa. "So now we go with Munoz. It will be a great fight. He's a great champion and he has a really powerful punch."

Another possible fight for Mijares had been to unify with beltholder Fernando Montiel, who also defended his title on the Pavlik-Taylor II undercard when he knocked out former titlist Martin Castillo in four lopsided rounds.

"I wanted to fight Montiel, but the promoters never worked it out," Mijares said. "I think it would also be a great fight. I'd like to fight Montiel after Munoz."

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.