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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: CANELO VS. MUNGUIA, THE POSTMORTEM

By Paul Magno | May 06, 2024
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: CANELO VS. MUNGUIA, THE POSTMORTEM

 

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fought a sharp, shrewd fight and performed like a true professional in beating Jaime Munguia via unanimous decision Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The fully-unified super middleweight champ, in his twenty-fifth world title fight, picked his shots well, drew Munguia into traps, and pounded the six-years-younger and six-years-fresher challenger with well-placed, thudding shots that dissuaded, discouraged, and earned the respect needed to work his way to a solid decision victory.

This was, for Alvarez, the closest we’re going to see him in a war ever again-- until, perhaps, he enters the ring one too many times and finds no other option than to go out on his shield.

The 33-year-old Canelo, however, has no need to worry about all that right now. He’s not going out on any shield, any time soon (especially if David Benavidez remains NOT in his plans). If what we saw against his fellow Mexican was as good as it gets in terms of warfare, that’s okay.

Alvarez-Munguia was an entertaining scrap from start to finish, defined by Alvarez’s refined skill set and fueled by an ever-game Munguia’s inability to accept being bent or broken. If it wasn’t exactly a Fight of the Year candidate, oh well. It sure as hell beat Alvarez following a disinterested Jermell Charlo around the ring or half-assing his way to the scorecards against a gatekeeper-level John Ryder and a rich, jaded Gennadiy Golovkin. It even topped Canelo’s march through brittle Brits, which comprises 44.4% of his run at 168.

In truth, the last time Alvarez produced any emotion was back in May of 2022 when Dmitry Bivol was beating his ass at light heavyweight and generating “Holy Shit” reactions from the stunned viewing public.

To be fair, it’s hard to blame the guy for losing some edge with money bursting from every orifice in his body and stacked high in every corner of his mansion (I’m assuming). There’s a reason millionaires don’t join the army and go to war. Being rich is really, really awesome and rich people have a shit ton to lose by taking arms. And, let’s be real here, Canelo has never been one to rush head-first into battle, anyway. Historically, his bouts typically fall into one of two categories-- one-sided calculated batterings of lesser opposition and smart boxing matches against more dangerous opponents.

Against Munguia, it was more the latter, but there was enough of the former to make things interesting.

The uppercut in the fourth round that dropped Munguia for the first time in his career, for instance, was the science of violence at its finest. There were pockets of brutal beauty throughout the fight, enough to make Alvarez’s chest-thumping post-fight machismo perfectly appropriate.

Munguia, at worst, was no less than the third-most deserving super middleweight contender for Canelo. That’s not something you put in a press release, but it’s respectable, especially for a guy in Alvarez who has taken to telling the world that he can fight anyone he damn well pleases.

And, speaking of which…

Alvarez’s next fight is in September and we’re almost guaranteed to get a less scintillating encounter from him than we just got.

Edgar Berlanga, to everyone but Berlanga’s and promoter Eddie Hearn’s dismay, appears to be a leading candidate for that prized B-side slot. Canelo-Berlanga, though, would be a waste-of-time slaughter that makes Canelo-Avni Yildirim look like Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez.

But what else is out there?

There’s David Benavidez, of course. But, no. A Terence Crawford fight is intriguing. But, no. David Morrell is all risk, no reward for Canelo. So, no. Alvarez reportedly still fancies Jermall Charlo as an opponent, but Charlo is a wreck whose latest public pop-up was a video apology to Caleb Plant, who bitch-slapped him during Terence Crawford-Errol Spence festivities. Maybe Chris Eubank Jr. gets the Canelo call? Maybe Carlos Adames moves up from middleweight? Christian Mbilli is green, but he could make for an entertaining gimme.

There’s not much and one gets the distinct vibe that Alvarez can’t sell solely on the weight of his own presence anymore. He needs a quality opponent. So, ahem, Benavidez…

As for Munguia?

He looked sharper, smarter, and better prepared than at any point of his career to date. It still wasn’t enough, though. The truth is that his rough edges could be rounded off until they’re nubs, and he’s still going to be Jaime Munguia-- big, tough, aggressive, and single-minded to his own detriment. If he comes back the same as he was on Saturday, he’ll beat most everyone he meets at 168. But he’ll still lose to someone who can think, strategize, and take his punch well enough to exercise a coherent game plan. Despite what co-promoter Oscar De La Hoya said in the post-fight press conference, he’s not going to become a better boxer after fighting Canelo, in the way Canelo got better after fighting Floyd Mayweather. He’s just not that kind of fighter and not that kind of human being.

Munguia’s spirited showing has bought him the freedom to pick less complicated foes in the immediate future and, with that, the time to improve on what he already does well. That’s something. He may not become the next Canelo, but he can be a better Jaime Munguia.

All in all, Saturday was a good night for boxing. Both Canelo and Munguia came away with positive momentum. Fans also got a good, lively night of boxing with an honest, fair ending. Although fans didn’t get the changing of the guard moment or the knock-down-drag-out war many were somehow expecting, the night was a good one. With so much negativity swirling around boxing in recent days, we should be happy with a good, solid night.

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

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