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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: A CINNAMON SOAP OPERA

By Paul Magno | March 04, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: A CINNAMON SOAP OPERA

 

Where do we start with this “Canelo is leaving PBC, Canelo is coming back to PBC” stuff? I don’t think there’s really a place we COULD begin because, despite what the online Twitter-jockey rumor-mongers would like you to believe, hardly anyone talking about it really knows anything about it. 

In a (semi-quick) nutshell, for those who’ve been camping all week, sans internet, or maybe in a coma, let me try to summarize where we are.

Per this past Thursday’s Magno’s Bulging Mail Sack:

“According to what’s been put out there, though-- largely by Dan Rafael and Jake Donovan-- the [Canelo] split [with PBC] occurred due to a disagreement over Canelo’s May 4 opponent. According to reports, Canelo wanted Jermall Charlo for May 4 and PBC, despite Charlo being wildly inactive, suffering through personal issues, and apparently inebriated the last time he was heard in public, was willing to take the likely PPV loss on that fight, if Canelo would agree to face David Benavidez in September. That, apparently, is where the impasse turned into a bypass, leading to the two sides parting ways. There’s also a report out there that PBC had not put Benavidez on the list of acceptable opponents from which Canelo could choose when he first signed his three-fight deal with the company, thereby making it even easier for Canelo to walk away and potentially claim breach of contract. If that last part is true, it was a major tactical error by PBC, although the split may still have happened because, by all accounts, Benavidez is absolutely not in Canelo’s immediate plans.”

Then, it was reported that the Mexican star and boxing cash cow would be crossing back over to his old haunts, DAZN, where he would be finalizing a deal to face countryman Jaime Munguia, despite originally (reportedly) targeting Edgar Berlanga in a bout that, apparently, not even the money marks at DAZN could stomach.

On Saturday, however, the buzz was heavy on social media, initiated by Fernando Barbosa and Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN Deportes, that PBC had re-entered the picture. According to the pair of boxeo insiders, who’ve been generally accurate regarding Team Canelo’s movements, Canelo would indeed be fighting Munguia on May 4, but under the PBC banner on Amazon Prime.

It’s yet to be explained how, business-wise, this would all play out. Munguia, who is principally promoted by Mexico’s Zanfer Promotions, has fought regularly on DAZN since entering into a co-promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions in the US. 

By the way, I also have to be really clear here that maybe NONE of the above is entirely (or even partially) accurate.

Whatever’s happening, though, Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya appears to be not involved-- or wildly out of the loop-- when it comes to business dealings involving his own fighter. The former six-division world champ and founder of Golden Boy Promotions has spent the last several days disparaging PBC bossman Al Haymon on Twitter and, on Saturday night, shortly after the news of Canelo-Munguia on PBC/Prime began breaking, was asking his Twitter followers: “What funny video would you like me to do?”

By the time this column gets posted on Monday, we may know a lot more about this situation or there may be even more confusion as partisan hacks try to spin continued ambiguity into fake news to advance their particular agendas. But let’s just assume that Canelo-Munguia is a thing, regardless of where it’ll be broadcast.

It’s an acceptable compromise for Canelo, a notch below THE fight (vs. David Benavidez) and a notch-and-a-half above NOT the fights (vs. Edgar Berlanga and vs. Jermall Charlo). 

Fighting Munguia, though, is still a calculated business move that offers more illusion of threat than actual threat. The 27-year-old Munguia is a strong, tough, willing battler, but he’s at least one full level beneath Alvarez. He’ll be there to put up an eye-pleasing struggle in an, ultimately, losing effort. Munguia, with his growing popularity in Mexico and growing support among Mexicans as the “real fighter” alternative to Canelo, is also a perfect foe for an Alvarez looking to (re)establish his standing among the hardcore Mexican fight fans he’s always courted, but has never quite won over. 

Munguia, however outclassed he may be, will put up a fight. He’ll rough Canelo up, maybe bloody him up or at least bruise up his unblemished face. That may be exactly what Canelo, the businessman who still plans on fighting for at least five more years, wants at this point in his career to prove that he’s “all in” when it comes to boxing.

Many have noted that, in recent years, Alvarez has appeared to show more passion for his golf game than his boxing game. And since the Dmitry Bivol fight, where he got touched up in a pretty decisive beating, he’s been giving off the vibe of a guy winding down his career, looking to maximize risk vs. reward. With a lifetime of wealth already guaranteed, this makes sense. Nobody wants to go to war after there's no need to go to war. 

The present tense Canelo gives the impression that he’s just not the same guy who devoured Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant to unify the super middleweight titles and that he’s most definitely not the same guy who risked his rise to the top of the money mountain with bouts versus Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara.

To many, Alvarez is now the guy who boxed his way to a safety-first decision in a supposed grudge match against a vulnerable Gennadiy Golovkin in 2022. He’s the guy who clutched at a showcase squash against British fall guy John Ryder right after that. He’s the guy who, in his last fight, was fine cruising to a one-sided decision against shut-down junior middleweight champ Jermell Charlo. And, yeah, he’s the guy who wanted to fight a Jermall Charlo, deep in personal crisis, and a nowhere-near-ready Edgar Berlanga...for $35 million+.

Some pushback by a cocksure Jaime Munguia would be just the thing Canelo needs to get people excited about Canelo the fighter and not just Canelo the attraction. And, to be honest, Munguia pushback is just a hell of a lot safer than Benavidez pushback, which has the potential to be an end-of-ride, mystique-crumbling kind of pushback.

But, after this last week of craziness, intentional misinformation, and all-around lack of due diligence from, well, everyone, it would be wise to trust nothing you hear or read until the parties involved actually make some sort of announcement.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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