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Canelo Alvarez vs. Jaime Munguia fight: Top storylines to watch during Cinco de Mayo weekend showdown

One of boxing’s biggest superstars returns to action on Saturday when undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez defends his four world championships against undefeated Jaime Munguia. The action goes down from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as Alvarez continues his tradition of headlining cards around Cinco De Mayo weekend.

Many fans have questioned Alvarez’s choice of opponent for the fight, wondering why Munguia got the call when other, more established fighters were available. However, when you’re a superstar on the level of Alvarez, you call the shots in ways others don’t.

That questionable matchmaking is just one of the top storylines heading into Saturday’s card, and with that in mind, let’s take a look at three of the biggest storylines heading into Alvarez vs. Munguia.

Is “Canelo” done taking the toughest fights available?

No offense to Munguia, but the general feeling when he was announced as Alvarez’s opponent was one of disappointment. David Benavidez was the ideal opponent for Alvarez. Benavidez had twice held the WBC super middleweight championship, losing the belt outside the ring both times. After Benavidez dominated Caleb Plant to retain the WBC interim title, there was no remaining doubt that the time had come for Benavidez to get his shot at Alvarez.

Instead, Alvarez went with Munguia. Making matters worse, Alvarez defended his position by saying he could make the amount of money he was offered to fight Benavidez against anyone and that someone would have to offer him $150-200 million to get him interested in a fight with Benavidez.

As a result, Benavidez has now moved up to light heavyweight, as has the next man in the contender line, David Morrell. Morrell was the WBA secondary champion for nearly four years but it never felt like the sanctioning body would enforce his standing as Alvarez’s mandatory challenger. Alvarez is simply bigger than the rules that apply to other champions and if he had no interest in fighting Benavidez or Morrell, he wasn’t going to be forced to, no matter their standing in the division or what secondary titles they held.

Munguia is a decent opponent for Alvarez, but compared to Benavidez and Morrell, he simply is not on the top tier of the most dangerous fights for Alvarez. Nor is Edgar Berlanga, who somehow was shot to the top of the WBA rankings on the strength of a win over middling fighter Padraig McCrory in February. Berlanga is a fighter the Alvarez camp has repeatedly expressed interest in facing, so it feels convenient he has been placed in the optimal position to get the fight should Alvarez get past Munguia. Berlanga is not an intriguing opponent for someone like Alvarez beyond that Alvarez is interested in fighting him.

It’s disappointing to see Alvarez, who once ranked among the boxers most willing to take big risks in the pursuit of their legacy.

Does Munguia have a chance?

Munguia shouldn’t be overlooked by fans and media heading into the fight. He is a talented fighter who has a high punch output and could pressure Alvarez. But, as feels like is the case in most recent Alvarez fights, Munguia’s best chance likely comes down to whether Alvarez has slowed down.

After losing to Dmitry Bivol in a bid to move up to light heavyweight and win a title for a second time, Alvarez put on uninspiring performances against Gennady Golovkin in a trilogy fight and John Ryder. Alvarez’s punch output had dropped and his defense looked to have leaks that he’d not previously shown.

Alvarez quieted a lot of those concerns in his most recent bout, shredding Jermell Charlo over 12 rounds. Of course, Charlo was coming up two weight divisions for the fight, while Munguia is a solid, experienced super middleweight.

Munguia’s best path to victory is a combination of his pressure fighting wearing on Alvarez along with Alvarez continuing to show deterioration in his defensive capabilities along with a return to a hesitancy to let his own hands go.

The chance exists, but Munguia’s status as a +400 underdog is indicative of his actual chances of getting the job done.

What to know about the undercard

Unfortunately, the card below Alvarez vs. Munguia is not strong. Here’s a look at the three fights scheduled to make up the rest of the pay-per-view broadcast:

  • Mario Barrios (c) vs. Fabian Maidana, WBC interim welterweight championship
  • Brandon Figueroa (c) vs. Jessie Magdaleno, WBC interim featherweight championship
  • Eimantas Stanionis (c) vs. Gabriel Maestre, WBA “regular” welterweight championship

All three favorites — Barrios, Figueroa and Stanionis — are at least -1000 at the betting window. Additionally, every fight is for a secondary or tertiary title, with no other world championships on the line.

Considering fans are being asked to pay an incredibly high price of $89.99, it is only fair to expect a higher quality card for the cost.

In the night’s chief support bout, Barrios is defending his WBC interim belt against Maidana, who is not even ranked in the WBC top 15 and whom BoxRec ranks as the world’s No. 50 welterweight. That fight alone makes it obvious how cynical the matchmaking is.

These fights exist to fill time, with Alvarez fighting on Cinco De Mayo weekend as the lone reason for fans to pay even a cent to watch the card.

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