Friday, May 24, 2024

Canelo Alvarez vs. Jaime Munguia results, takeaways: Don’t give the champion any extra motivation

LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez was masterful on Saturday in outdueling Mexican countryman Jaime Munguia in a pay-per-view clash inside T-Mobile Arena that provided an exclamation point of excitement to Cinco de Mayo weekend. 

At 33, Alvarez remained in top form among the pound-for-pound best in boxing by relying on speed and timing to connect on 50% of his power shots. Alvarez seized the momentum with a fourth-round knockdown of Munguia on a beautiful right uppercut and left hook to the body combination. 

Let’s take a closer look at what we learned from Alvarez’s fourth defense of his undisputed super middleweight championship. 

1. Giving Alvarez extra motivation to be great rarely ends well

Despite the droning criticism from those claiming he’s ducking David Benavidez to the heated verbal spats with ex-promoter Oscar De La Hoya during fight week, Alvarez once again found a way to channel his emotions into surgical focus. The Mexican icon fielded the early offensive attack from his larger and younger opponent well as the two-way action began to heat up. But Alvarez has known few peers historically when it comes to his ability to adjust on the fly and begin to use his counterpunching to mute his opponent’s output while dramatically seizing control of the fight. Alvarez’s advantage in hand speed allowed him to be daring enough to pick Munguia apart at close range. And considering Alvarez came in looking shredded on the scales and claiming to be in the best physical shape of his career, it’s obvious how much the mental warfare attempts from De La Hoya only motivated Alvarez to be even greater. You can talk about Naoya Inoue and Terence Crawford all you want, but no discussion about the current pound-for-pound king can exist without Alvarez having a seat at the table. 

2. Someone needs to show Alvarez the money to face Benavidez 

Admittedly, the constant dismissiveness that Alvarez has shown whenever Benavidez’s name has been brought up hasn’t been his best look. It has also routinely fueled his critics’ belief that he’s scared of Benavidez, the unbeaten, two-time champion who was given his “Mexican Monster” nickname by Mike Tyson. There’s always the argument, of course, that Alvarez has been merely flexing his A-side muscle publicly in an effort to gain even more leverage at the bargaining table. Either way, the time for a fight between Alvarez and Benavidez is now or likely never at all considering Benavidez is moving up to 175 pounds in June and isn’t willing to wait out Alvarez any longer. Amid a series of boos from the crowd during his post-fight interview in which Alvarez gave a lukewarm response to being asked about a Benavidez fight, Alvarez did say he would do the fight if the price was right. Considering there is no shortage of huge money sitting around in this sport, particularly due to the influx of cash from Saudi Arabia, it would be a shame for boxing to miss its window to make a fight that has all the making to be historically relevant. If Alvarez wants to be paid for taking the risk for greatness against an opponent who rehydrates so much, it’s time to pay that man his money. 

3. Munguia’s stock shot up considerably in defeat

At 27, Munguia faced defeat on the pro level for the first time in 44 bouts. But in just his second fight under the tutelage of Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Munguia showed continued evolution to his craft including a sharply increased poise. And to the delight of the pro-Mexican crowd in attendance, Munguia rose to the occasion under the brightest of lights by never being discouraged in the face of Alvarez’s violent arsenal. If this fight was a celebration of everything that is great about the marriage of boxing and Mexican culture, Munguia embodied all of those characteristics in full including his chin, gas tank and fighting spirit. Munguia’s performance would’ve been a handful for any other super middleweight in the world on this night. But as Alvarez said himself all week, “Canelo is different.” 

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