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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