Sunday, May 19, 2024

Opinions and Observations: Fury-Usyk

In a thrilling fight full of twists and turns, Oleksandr Usyk made a vital adjustment in the eighth round that directly led to his victory over Tyson Fury: throwing his right hook. 

Usyk started the fight well, landing a series of left hands from different angles. In particular, Fury had a lot of problems tracking Usyk's overhand left. But as the great fighters do, Fury made adjustments. He wisely decided to get off the ropes, which allowed for more mobility defensively and better angles to land his counters. In the middle rounds, Fury's varied offensive attack was too much for Usyk's one-handed display. By the end of the sixth, Fury was dominating the action. He had solved Usyk's initial puzzle earlier in the bout and was now controlling the fight.

Usyk (left) landing a straight left
Photo courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank

But in the eighth, Usyk brought out the hook. His adjustment from one shot at a time to combinations gave Fury defensive fits. By the end of the eighth, Fury's nose was smashed up and the momentum had returned to Usyk; Fury would never fully recover. In the pivotal ninth round, Usyk landed a series of hard shots with Fury against the ropes. During that flurry of punches, Usyk connected with two crushing right hooks that were essentially free shots. Fury didn't see them coming and had no defense for them. 

I'm sure that you've heard the phrase "battered from pillar to post" before. This is literally what happened in the ninth. Usyk's onslaught caused Fury to stumble from one corner of the ring to the other. Usyk smacked him into the ropes multiple times before referee Mark Nelson called a knockdown toward the end of the round (more on this later). 

Usyk didn't step on the gas in the 10th or the 11th, but he controlled Fury and still battered him with a few big left hands in each round. The 12th was more competitive. I thought that Usyk had the better moments, but all three judges gave it to Fury. 

The judges' scores were 114-113 and 115-112 for Usyk and 114-113 for Fury (I had it 116-111 for Usyk). Each scorecard was defensible in my opinion. I thought that there were up to four rounds, specifically the 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 12th, that could have gone either way. In the first and seventh, Fury had seemingly won the round, with the exception of a couple of big shots that Usyk landed. Those rounds are the definition of "what you like" for a judge: Fury's volume and consistency or Usyk's more telling blows. 

Although I believe that Fury had a case for winning, I don't think that he got his tactics right at the beginning of the fight. He spent the first two rounds trying to counter off the ropes. And these were mostly voluntary choices by him. This led to Usyk having moments of early success with his left hand. Fury could have started off the match in all sorts of ways – for instance, on his front foot or circling – but I think that the decision to hang by the ropes gave Usyk early confidence that he could get to Fury. 

Fury was at his best in rounds 4, 5 and 6. More often in the center of the ring, he used his quick, short counters to beat Usyk in exchanges. He wisely decided to take some of the sting off his shots, and he quickly realized that throwing his punches at 70% or 80% force could still do more than enough damage. In the fifth round, Fury crushed Usyk with a short uppercut that badly wobbled the Ukrainian. 

But it wasn't just one punch from Fury. During this passage of the fight he displayed his entire arsenal, connecting with straight rights to the body, pinpoint left hooks, and quick combinations. He was so dominant after the sixth round that it looked like the fight was only going to go his way. 


What has made Usyk so special throughout his career is his ability to beat back danger on his way to winning. He has an unusual skill of performing at his highest level after experiencing duress, and not the duress of being down a round or two, but the duress of having his chin cracked or his body pulverized by a big shot. 

Usyk can somehow remove himself from the present danger, to disregard it, to nullify it even though it is happening to him. It's like he flicks a switch. It's binary. He's hurt or he's losing; now he's not! This pattern played out in the two Anthony Joshua fights, the Tony Bellew fight, the Michael Hunter fight, and even against Daniel Dubois, where at the very least he was badly hurt by a shot that was ruled a low blow. 

It is when he appears to be at his lowest point in the fight where suddenly he regathers himself and becomes unbeatable. He seems to draw a mental line in the sand where he says, "no more." 

Fury getting through with a right hook
Photo courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank

I don't remember a successful combination from Fury in the last five rounds of Saturday's fight. Fury was so spooked in the final rounds that he stopped jabbing with conviction (the southpaw right hook can come right over the orthodox jab). 

Usyk doesn't waste punches. He also doesn't show everything in his arsenal unless he needs to. He can win with an economical punch selection or can be more expansive if the fight requires it. He starts with his left and only when he needs more from his bag of tricks does he go to them. His approach maximizes the element of surprise. Late in the fight, Fury had no idea how to defend the right hook. He hadn't seen it yet. He didn't know the angles for the shot or Usyk's facility for throwing and landing it. 

One quick note on referee Mark Nelson: In the ninth, Nelson made a series of decisions that upset many boxing fans. Let's innumerate them: 

  1. He could have called a knockdown on Fury earlier in the round than when he did. 
  2. He could have stopped the fight instead of calling a knockdown.
  3. He gave Fury too much recovery time after the knockdown. 

I think that fans have a right to be upset with Nelson regarding points 1 and 3. Fury had hit the ropes from a punch multiple times in the round. Only when it looked like a finishing blow could potentially happen did Nelson call the knockdown. And Nelson was certainly generous with giving Fury a few extra seconds after the knockdown. 

But for point number 2, I'm glad that Nelson didn't stop the fight. His job after the knockdown was to evaluate whether Fury had the ability to protect himself and if he was in the condition to continue. I'm sure that Nelson realized that the end of the round was near and I'm also positive that the ref fully understood Fury's recuperative powers in previous fights when he had been hurt.  

Although I don't think that Nelson bathed himself in 100% glory during the ninth, I think that his decision to let the fight continue was the correct call. Fury was never badly hurt throughout the rest of the fight or in serious danger of hitting the canvas again. Ultimately, Nelson played a major role in letting the fighters decide the outcome of the bout, which is what I think a ref should do whenever he or she can. Yes, many referees would have stopped Saturday's fight in the ninth, and they would have been able to defend their actions, but the conclusion to Saturday's fight was much more satisfying because Nelson allowed the fight to continue.  


Fury-Usyk was a wonderful addition to the heavyweight annals. Both boxers displayed an ability to fight in different styles and make pivotal adjustments. Both were hurt and found a way to stay on their feet. There was tension and excitement throughout; it was riveting stuff.  

Was it a perfect fight? No. I think that both fighters were a little too comfortable in the championship rounds. Neither really stepped on the gas. Fury was trying to regather himself and didn't make a concerted effort to win the 10th or 11th; Usyk was happy to bank rounds without expending more energy than he needed to. The fight didn't have the relentlessness and desperation found in Ali-Frazier 3 or Fury-Wilder 3, where there was a feeling that both guys in the ring were fighting for their life. Saturday's fight didn't transcend the sport, becoming something more epic or primal, but it was a great advertisement for what boxing can offer at the highest level. 

Usyk, undisputed, celebrating the victory
Photo courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank

I've heard too many boxing fans complain that they don't make heavyweight fights like they used to, but this era has produced Fights of the Year like Joshua-Klitschko and Fury-Wilder 3 and Rounds of the Year in Joshua-Klitschko, Joshua-Ruiz 1 and Fury-Wilder 1. I've also really enjoyed Hrgovic-Zhang, Parker-Joyce, Wilder-Ortiz 1, and Ruiz-Ortiz.  

Today's heavyweight division features terrific personal stories as well. Fury's comeback from depression and other mental health challenges inspired many. Ruiz becoming the first Mexican-heritage heavyweight champion after coming in as a last-minute replacement was the stuff of cinema and legend. How about Joseph Parker's talents in comedy or Joe Joyce's prowess in art? The ferocious power displays from Anthony Joshua, Zhilei Zhang and Deontay Wilder have been thrilling.  

This heavyweight era will now be defined by Usyk, a complicated character who can be menacing or the biggest joker on the stage. He's a dancer, a prankster and devoutly religious. Beating everyone on their home turf or in neutral settings, Usyk is the sport's supreme road warrior. Think about the mental strength it takes to win fight after fight without home support, and almost always as the B-side. He just goes from place to place knocking off champions and challengers. 

He has now become undisputed champion at cruiserweight and heavyweight. He has never received a gift from the judges. All of his victories have been earned, a number of them after being hurt or behind in the fight.  

In the last few years, Usyk has had to deal with the devastating consequences of the war in his homeland. Over the last two years, Usyk has spent nights in bomb shelters. He's experienced missile attacks and bombs. He's seen death, the destruction of nearby residential buildings, and the ending of a previous way of life. And he has had to compartmentalize that anguish and despair and prepare for the guy in front of him in the ring who wants to batter him and take his world title.  

Since the war started, Usyk has defeated two of the bigger punchers in the division (Joshua and Dubois) and one of the craftiest fighters in modern heavyweight history (Fury). These performances have demonstrated Usyk's deep psychological and emotional reservoirs of strength. He has refused to wilt or yield. He has beaten opponents who are much bigger and hit harder. He has not let any of those disadvantages stand in his way. At his core, he has a will that cannot be broken. He will persevere. He will beat back what's in front of him. He will find a way. He will win.  

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Panel, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Fury-Usyk Preview and Prediction Article

Here is my Fury-Usyk preview and prediction article for Ring Magazine. In the article, I broke the fight down by which fighter has the better skills in 14 categories. To read the article, click here.

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Panel, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook 

Boxing Writers Association of America

I'm honored to announce that I've been admitted to the Boxing Writers Association of America as a fulltime member. I'm thrilled to join the organization, which includes many of the best writers on the sport. It's a very happy day!

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Panel, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Notes from the Ennis-Crowley Press Conference

The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is home to the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers. It's the premier indoor entertainment venue in the city. Walking through the relatively empty arena on Friday for the Jaron "Boots" Ennis-Cody Crowley press conference, one thought was rushing through my mind: How are they going to fill this place?  

As storied as Philadelphia is in boxing, with its dozens of champions, the  Rocky mystique, and a gym culture that ranks as one of the best in the world, what hasn't happened over the last two decades in the city is success on the big-time boxing stage. Sure, there have been a few attempts. Beterbiev-Gvozdyk was there, Tevin Farmer made a hometown title defense (at the time he was co-promoted by Matchroom Boxing/Eddie Hearn), and Danny Garcia also had a homecoming fight. Yet none of those events was a huge box office success. Furthermore, they took place at the Liacouras Center, a smaller arena, which had been scaled for 8,000-10,000 and not the Wells Fargo Center, which can seat 20,000 comfortably. 

Ennis, Hearn and Crowley at the press conference
Photo courtesy of Andrew Maclean/Matchroom

But Hearn believes that things will be different this time. He also thinks that with Ennis he has a future pound-for-pound level talent. Hearn announced that the ticket presale for the bout, which is an Ennis welterweight title defense and a homecoming fight, sold 4,500 tickets. 

Hearn also wants to signal to the boxing world that Ennis should be a superstar. And this is where superstars belong: in big arenas, trying to capture the imagination of a larger sporting audience. 

Hearn can be many things, but he is at heart a promoter, a dreamer. He believes in big events, whether it's at Wembley or Saudi Arabia or Las Vegas or at Cowboys stadium. He pointed to the success that Devin Haney had in selling over 15,000 tickets in a homecoming fight in San Francisco against Regis Prograis, and San Francisco is another city that had not recently had a lot of success as a destination for big fights. Hearn acknowledged that he could have taken a safer route by staging Ennis-Crowley at the Liacouras Center, but he's not interested in safe at the moment; he wants to make a splash. 


Ennis-Crowley is an unusual title fight in that a year ago Ennis was languishing as a mandatory challenger waiting for a big opponent to fight him (it never came) and Crowley was struggling to gain momentum in his professional career and in his personal life. Crowley is an atypical success story. Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Crowley entered the professional ranks with few assets. A number of his early professional bouts took place in out-of-the-way locales such as Oklahoma City; Norfolk, Virginia; and the Maryland State Fairgrounds. He ultimately returned to Peterborough, Canada where he promoted many of his own shows.

Crowley doesn't have a big punch and lacks other athletic skills that jump off the screen. In his 22 professional fights, he has only nine stoppages, and much of this was against pedestrian opposition in his early fights. But he kept winning. Belatedly, six years into his pro career, he got an opportunity on a PBC card in 2020 and won. Since then, he has appeared on PBC-branded shows, but the fight against Ennis will only be his fifth fight in the last four years. 

There are reasons for those activity gaps. His dad committed suicide and Crowley had to overcome significant mental health concerns in the aftermath. He had a double eye surgery (always a bit of a worrying sign). He also had a problem with his former management. 

On Friday, Crowley was joined by Anthony Girges, his new manager, on stage. Girges was brilliant during the Q&A in the press conference, defending his fighter and riling up Team Ennis. It looked like he had been in the game for a dozen years. But in speaking to Girges after the press conference, he admitted that Crowley is his first fighter and that he's new to boxing management; he's flying by the seat of his pants.

Crowley sees himself as a winner. He mixed in the "aw shucks happy to be there" vibes with full confidence that he will be successful. He wanted to fight Ennis, even though other champs at 147 including Eimantas Stanionis and Mario Barrios (who has an interim belt) could have been easier fights to make and perhaps easier fights in the ring. He believes that Boots is the best at 147 and that's why he wanted to face him in the ring. 

Cerebral during his interviews, Crowley can be philosophical about himself and boxing as a whole. It's not quite clear where he will go, but he gets there. He'll drop in a word like "manifestation" and discuss the illusions of professional boxing, especially as it relates to the sanctioning bodies. He fully realizes that it's a game to get a title shot. Talent is only part of the story. And that's something that Boots, who waited years for high-level opponents, could attest to. So much about boxing is who or what is behind the curtain. Who has the right promoter? The right management? The right connections with the sanctioning bodies? It's an aspect of the sport that few are willing to discuss publicly, but Crowley held no reluctance on such matters on Friday. 


Boots Ennis was asked if he was nervous about the homecoming fight and he laughed, almost dismissing the question. Boots has been around the sport his whole life. He had two older brothers who were successful professional fighters. But as good as Derek (24-5) and Farah (22-2) were throughout their careers, Boots was the one thought to be special. As an amateur, there was a huge buzz about him in Philadelphia. During his early career, he was selling out Philadelphia club shows with standing-room-only audiences. Philly fight fans might not agree on much, but seemingly all acknowledged Boots' special talent.   

“Listen, there’s really no pressure on me," he said on Friday. "I’ve been in this game since I was a baby. There’s no pressure. It’s normal for me. My brothers have been at the top and I’ve seen all this stuff before. This is like being at home in my house right now. It’s natural for me and it’s normal." And while all of that might sound like the right thing to say, Boots' nonchalance was clear. He has expected this from himself. Like Crowley, he has manifested it. When Errol Spence or Terence Crawford wouldn't give him a shot, he found another way. 

Photo courtesy of Andrew Maclean/Matchroom

At 26 years old and featuring a record of 31-0 (28 KOs), Boots is squarely in his athletic prime. He has an unusual combination of athleticism, power and ring smarts. But what Boots had lacked, and much of this was his own doing, was a big push behind him. Boots' father and trainer, Bozy, had rejected the advances of bigger promoters and Boots spent much of his career promoted by Cameron Dunkin, a legendary talent scout and manager, but someone who didn't have the stable or juice to help Boots land bigger fights. 

Boots is now with Matchroom, and he has the platform, the money behind him and the potential future opponents to ascend to the higher ranks in the sport. He will now have the opportunity to test himself consistently against top opposition. There will be no more excuses or "woulda, coulda, shoulda." Boots can now make of his career what he will. 

But I'd certainly feel better if his dad didn't say "we never watch tape of our opponents," seemingly unbothered by what Crowley could offer in the ring. Of course, Bozy also called Crowley a good fighter, and expected him to bring the best out of Boots. So maybe Bozy has seen Crowley fight before; press conference games are nothing new.


The press conference started late, and Hearn met with the media prior to the start of the event. He held court for well over 30 minutes as various media members pushed their microphones, phones and video cameras in front of his face. Observing from the back, it was impressive to watch Hearn navigate from topic to topic: "What do you make of Ryan Garcia's positive test?" "Could you see Boots fighting Crawford next year?" "What's Canelo going to do next?" "Is Conor Benn able to fight right now?" He didn't miss a beat.

I'm not sure there's a better promoter in the sport at that part of the job: working the media. I've seen Hearn after a fight card answer questions for hours. He never seems to tire from interacting with the media. He gives people their chance. He relishes the back-and-forth and he can be a really persuasive salesman. Sure, he can spin, but it's also his job to spin. It's the media's job to balance a statement given to them with a potential greater truth, especially if there may be daylight between the two. 

Matchroom and Hearn in particular have been a mixed bag since they entered the American boxing market. On one hand, they've been involved in some huge events with Canelo. They have cultivated talents such as Bam Rodriguez. Some of their U.S.-based prospects such as Raymond Ford and Diego Pacheco have developed into real talents. They've also provided platforms for smaller-weight legends such as Roman Gonzalez and Juan Estrada. 

But they also threw around a lot of money for fighters who didn't move the needle, such as Danny Jacobs, Maurice Hooker, Tevin Farmer and Demetrius Andrade to name a few. They entered the market with hundreds of millions to spend and their initial foray wasn't a total success by any measure. Yes, they have gained an important foothold in the market. They have become one of the key players, but they have fallen far short of anything resembling dominance, which was one of their stated goals.

Hearn believes that the Ennis signing (in which discussions had been off an on for over five years) is a vital step for his company in America. Since signing Boots, Hearn said that several pound-for-pound-level fighters in the U.S. have contacted him, and he expects to sign a few more over the next year. 

And whether that's true or wishful thinking, Hearn is happy to have another major chip in the U.S. market. Between the lines, he admits to some past missteps. He acknowledged on Friday that he only wants to make signings who will or can move the needle for the sport and his company. But will there be more big names after Boots? Will it be a trickle of top fighters following suit, a geyser, or just empty words from a promoter?   

One thing I'm certain of is that we won't know the answer immediately. But there's always intrigue in the sport. And even in a sparsely filled press conference on a Friday in Philadelphia, there was a lot of it. The major players who were there, the fighters, the managers, the promoter, all recognized that Boots-Crowley could be a significant step to accomplishing their long-held goals, to conquering. A lot will be on the line. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook 

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Opinions and Observations: Canelo-Munguia

Jaime Munguia was the first fighter who really brought it to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez since Gennadiy Golovkin's prime. Over the last half-decade, Canelo's opponents have most often played a glorified game of peak-a-boo where they remained on the outside, hoping to peck and paw, not willing to go into Canelo's kitchen. Munguia had no such caution. From the opening bell, Munguia was determined to go after Canelo, to bring volume with him and to let his power shots flow. He was there to mix it up. 

It had been so long since we had seen Canelo with such an opponent that Munguia instantly asked questions of him. Can Canelo handle the volume? Is his chin still sturdy against a guy throwing big power shots? Would he be able to maintain a fast pace for 12 rounds? 

Munguia was effective in asking those questions of Canelo; however, Canelo answered all of them affirmatively. After the first three rounds where Munguia more than held his own, Canelo started to throw the types of pulverizing counter shots that initially led to his fame in the sport. And in a further turning back of the clock, Canelo wasn't just throwing one shot at a time; he let his hands go in combination. 

Canelo (right) throwing a right hand
Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Premier Boxing Champions 

Take the knockdown in the fourth round. Canelo dropped Munguia for the first time in his career with a sizzling left hook/right uppercut combination. He even threw a clean-up left hook that didn't land as Munguia was already on his way down. Throughout the fight Canelo was letting his hands go in twos and threes and it was a thrilling reminder of how skilled and dynamic a craftsman he can be. Yes, Canelo had the heavier hands, but he also had significant advantages in punch placement, creativity, and a larger punch arsenal. 

Perhaps the biggest advantage he had in the fight was defense. Canelo was magnificent in catching shots on his arms, taking a step back to evade big punches, and using head movement. He had a full complement of defensive techniques that he employed to tame an active, aggressive power puncher. 

CompuBox credited Munguia with landing 170/663 punches (25.6%) and 96/328 power punches (29.3%). And let's take a minute to understand just how many big power shots that Canelo evaded: over 230 of them! These weren't shots from well out of range or thrown with terrible technique; Canelo was mostly right in front of Munguia, who doesn't have bad hand speed, and yet the overwhelming majority of punches failed to land. It was a stunning defensive display. 

But let's also give Munguia credit. Although he didn't land at a high percentage, he did certainly land. Connecting with 170 blows is nothing to sniff at; it's almost 100 more than Jermell Charlo landed in Canelo's last fight. And many of these were big punches from a hard-hitting super middleweight, and not someone moving up from 154 lbs. 

Munguia certainly had a case for winning three or four rounds in the fight and he landed some blistering shots over the course of the bout. So, let's also praise Canelo's chin. He took some big bombs throughout the night yet was never in any real trouble. His defense was great, but his sturdy chin insured his preeminence on the night.

The two boxers appreciating each other post-fight
Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Premier Boxing Champions 

Overall, I was really entertained by the fight. Both took turns countering and leading. And there were portions of the bout where each one tried to drive the other back. It turned out to be a wonderful showcase for what Canelo can offer in the ring. However, Munguia pushed him; he made Canelo bring out long-dormant sides of his game. 

Canelo won by unanimous decision, but it was a competitive fight. Munguia showed that he has the offensive skills and internal fortitude to become an important part of the North American boxing landscape. He answered many questions as well. When the going got tough, he didn't fold or become cautious. He continued to go right at Canelo; a sign of a real fighter.  

I'm not sure if Canelo-Munguia will be remembered decades from now, but let's not let legacy cloud the overall satisfaction from Saturday's fight. Yes, the fighter who was supposed to win, won, and the bout wasn't one of those fights that had any doubt as to who deserved the victory. But boxing is also about entertainment. And Canelo-Munguia had that in spades. 

Munguia was out to make a name for himself. Although he ran into a superior talent, he wasn't dissuaded. And Canelo, the old veteran, relished the give-and-take of the combat. He seemed to love being in a fight where he didn't have to go looking on milk cartons for his opponent. It was two guys slugging it out for glory. There were bombs a-flyin', the crowd cheering, and two boxers giving it their best in the ring. In the end, the word that sprang to mind was enjoyment. And we certainly don't use that word enough when it comes to boxing. The fight delivered. There were smiles all around. Job well done to both. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
snboxing on twitter. SN Boxing on Facebook 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Canelo-Munguia: Preview and Prediction

In an all-Mexican showdown that promises to feature a steady supply of power punches, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) and Jaime Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) square off on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will be contested for Canelo's undisputed status (all four major title belts) at super middleweight. 

From a stylistic standpoint, the match should deliver the goods. Munguia is a power-punching, high-volume, aggressive fighter, while Canelo packs the single-shot knockout weapons and large punch arsenal that has made him one of the top fighters in the sport. For Munguia, 27, this is the big fight that he and his fans have been waiting for. Since establishing himself on the world level at 154-lbs. in 2018, Munguia has faced a parade of B-level fighters while his team conspicuously turned down higher-level opportunities against more notable fighters. 

Munguia has recently switched trainers, from Erik Morales to Freddie Roach. He's coming off a destructive ninth-round stoppage against John Ryder, where Munguia outperformed Canelo against a common opponent (Canelo beat Ryder by a decision in a pedestrian performance, although he did knock down Ryder once). Canelo, 33, was last in the ring in September, where he dominated undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo, winning a wide decision and scoring a knockdown. 

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez 
Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Premier Boxing Champions

The two main factors when analyzing this matchup are Munguia's volume advantage and his leaky defense, and these two aspects may wind up becoming interrelated on Saturday. Munguia will frequently average 70 or 80 punches a round. Although he has demonstrated a usable jab at points, he's mostly a combination puncher. He often throws three and four-punch combinations and isn't worried if the first or second punch doesn't land. He's looking to probe an opponent's defense with his combinations. 

Munguia throws essentially every punch in the book and has the power to hurt foes with his straight right, left hook and uppercuts. He can also loop his punches so even his "straight right" doesn't always appear to come in that straight, giving him the advantage of landing shots from unusual angles. He's also equally comfortable going to the body or the head.  

An opponent's volume can be a blessing or a curse for counterpuncher. Unlike Canelo a decade ago, he no longer lets his hands go that much as he has moved up in weight. He often settles between 30-40 punches per round, and sometimes it's far less than that. Although his timing is impeccable and his counters are hard, he isn't going to match Munguia punch-for-punch. Structurally, that advantage helps Munguia with the judges if he isn't taking huge punishment in return. The judges will see him more active; he'll be the one making the fight. 

Canelo is going to have to identify openings and make Munguia pay for his volume. And this shouldn't be that difficult of an undertaking since every opponent seems to land flush shots on Munguia. To Munguia's credit, he has demonstrated a sturdy chin and if he is hurt, like he was in the Derevyanchenko fight, he's shown strong recuperative powers. So, it will not be enough for Canelo to hurt Munguia once, or land something hard a couple of times; he will need to do so on a consistent basis to see the fight go his way. In the rounds where he cannot land his thudding artillery, expect Munguia to get the benefit from the judges. 

Jaime Munguia
Photo courtesy of Esther Lin/Showtime

Of course, Canelo can fight more than one way, and there's no law that says he has to fight as a counterpuncher against Munguia. As Canelo has aged, he's been very effective as a walk-down pressure fighter. I don't think that Munguia will be compliant in allowing that fight to happen consistently, but if Canelo can get Munguia on the back foot through portions of the bout, that will be a great benefit to him; Munguia isn't nearly as effective when boxing off the back foot than when he's going forward. 

It's possible that Canelo will try to hold the center of the ring and look for opportunities to sharp shoot as Munguia opens up with combinations. The openings should be there, not because Munguia has bad balance, but he does often overshoot his punches or throw punches from the wrong range. Although he will get his shots home, he'll be missing a lot as well, providing ample opportunity for Canelo to counter. Canelo's head movement and overall defensive technique will be a significant advantage for him in the fight.


As dynamic as Munguia is offensively, I don't like anyone's chances against Canelo when giving him ample free shots during a 12-round fight. The only fighter who in my opinion that has survived that strategy and live to tell about it was Gennadiy Golovkin, who should have been awarded a least one victory against Canelo. Golovkin had a superhuman beard, and although Munguia's chin has been good, he has never faced a level of puncher like Canelo. 

I think that Munguia will pull ahead to an early lead in the fight. He'll feel confident with his offense and Canelo will take a few rounds to study Munguia, see what's in front of him and figure out the angles for the counters. By the fourth round I expect Canelo to start landing his fair share of pulverizing power punches. The middle rounds of the fight are where I believe the bout will get explosive. Munguia won't want to back down and he will be motivated to return any punishment that he receives in kind. 

But ultimately, I think that Canelo is too sharp of a puncher and Munguia's defense is too leaky. There are only so many shots a super middleweight can take from Canelo. I think that Munguia's skin will start to open up and he'll have issues with facial swelling as the fight progresses. I think that Munguia will start to have problems seeing the punches coming, which will spell the end for him in the fight. I expect the match to be stopped late. Let's call it for the 11th round. 

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez TKO 11 Jaime Munguia. 

Adam Abramowitz is the founder and head writer of
He's a contributing writer for Ring Magazine, a member of Ring Magazine's Ring Ratings Panel and a Board Member for the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. 
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