Why Canelo Alvarez Defeated Jaime Munguía

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, AKA Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan, 61-2-2 with 39 knockouts, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, age 33, remains the top ranked 168 pounds super middleweight boxer in the world, having passed through the welterweight, junior middleweight, and middleweight divisions, and tried his hand at the light heavyweight division. Only two undefeated world champions, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Dmitry Bivol, have thus far been able to solve the Canelo mystery. Floyd a superior defensive fighter with technical work rate expertise. Bivol, a superb superior ring technician, was able to use superior height and reach advantage to his consistent 12 round advantage against Canelo.

Canelo handily solved the riddle of the former world champion nobody wanted to fight, Jaime Munguia, who entered the ring at T-Mobile Rena in Las Vegas, Nevada on the evening of Cinco de Mayo, May 4, 2024, with a seemingly indestructible record of 43-0. Munguia appeared to win the first three rounds of technical superiority, with height and reach advantage and was well on his way. Given Munguia’s momentum, Canelo would have then had to win the next four rounds before going ahead on the scorecards entering round eight. Then, Canelo would have had to have won round eight to remain ahead, on the scorecards would have been deadlocked even entering round nine, meaning Canelo would have had to win three of the last four rounds to pull the bout out and defend his undisputed world super middleweight title.

Canelo scored a knockdown in round four, scoring a 10-8 round and seizing the momentum of the bout. Although the judges went three different ways on the scorecards at the bout’s conclusion, Canelo appeared to win all but one of the remaining eight rounds to outpoint the dangerous Munguia. The feat was not as easy as it appeared by Canelo. Much like the situation of Carlos Monzon, who got decked early and lost the first three rounds of his finally world middleweight title defense against Rodrigo Valdez to dig a four round hole on the scorecards, Canelo had dug a three points hole on the scorecards early. A slow start, but like Bernard Hopkins, Canelo put himself in a situation against a dangerous opponent who could not be knocked out, Munguia, trained by the dangerous strategist Freddie Roach, who would have to be outpointed with a significant game plan.

Munguia opened the bout demonstrating a solid chin, and the ability to land upstairs downstairs combinations. The idea for Munguia was to use the long jab Dmitry Bivol style and outpoint Canelo by keeping him at distance out of range. This game plan approach won Munguia the first three rounds. Frustrated, Canelo then changed the game plan for himself by backing Munguia up in round four. Munguia, not wanting to get backed up, then engaged in an inside the pocket give and take power shot slugfest with Canelo.

Fighting Canelo inside toe to toe in a telephone booth proved to be a mistake, as Canelo kept pawing with the right uppercut, finally found an opening for it and dropped Munguia for the first time in his career. Seizing the bout’s momentum, Canelo appeared to outpoint Munguia in every round except the ninth round. This gave Canelo an eight rounds to four rounds advantage, with one 10-8 round due to the knockdown of Munguia, a points deficit and game plan switch Munguia could not overcome.

Canelo began nailing Munguia with pinpoint body sots wich hurt. This new approach by Canelo forced Munguia to dropped his hangs lower to defend against Canelo’s varied inside to the body attack, meaning shots to the head by Canelo now had a better chance of getting through. Canelo then backed Munguia up, except when he played possum on the ropes, to draw Munguia in, and then counterattack with power shots to the head over the top. In the end, the judges gave Munguia, who clearly got outworked over the full 12 rounds by Canelo, two, three and four rounds. Munguia, like Canelo, demonstrated a solid chin and a solid defense. Canelo, however, found the going better backing Munguia up on the inside. Munguia gave Canelo too many opportunities for attack and counterattack with jabs and power shots when he let Canelo back him up and control the ring with superior ring generalship. At that point, Canelo simply took Munguia to school.

Canelo truly is the master of the 168 pounds super middleweight weight class.

As Dmitry Bivol demonstrated, a superior fighter with height and reach advantage who can keep Canelo on the outside can find the pathway to outpoint Canelo. Ultimately, Canelo chose not to repeat the mistakes made with Bivol, fought his way to the inside, and maneuvered Munguia into close range where the odds favored Canelo. Munguia did not have an answer, and once Canelo dropped him, Munguia’s confidence dropped one notch. Munguia stayed with Canelo, but he could not keep Canelo off of him, and could not outwork him once the bout whittled down to a close range war.

Munguia had the tools to win. The critical key to why Canelo won? Canelo was behind on points entering round four as he was mentally downloading data from his opponent. Like the late Alexis Arguello, Canelo Alvarez has the ring IQ to make changes and adjustments midstream. Munguia, after getting dropped, could not regain his momentum, nor change his game plan once Canelo took control of the ring. Munguia got outworked after rising from the canvas in round four to the end of the bout.