A critical look at the past week in boxing
BIGGEST WINNERJaime Munguia
Let’s be clear: David Benavidez – not Jaime Munguia – deserves the first crack at undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez. Some believe Benavidez, a dominating all-around fighter, has surpassed the Mexican superstar as the top super middleweight. That being said, Munguia is building a case that he’s No. 2 and also deserving of a significant opportunity. Alvarez’s 27-year-old countryman delivered the strongest performance of his career on Saturday in Phoenix, dropping rugged veteran John Ryder four times before stopping him in the ninth round. The accomplishment was particularly impressive given that Ryder went the distance with Alvarez in his previous fight. Could Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) beat the champion? Probably not. It’s one thing to defeat Sergey Derevyanchenko (in his previous fight) and Ryder, good, but limited fighters. It would be another to take down Alvarez, who remains near the top of many pound-for-pound lists (No. 6 on Boxing Junkie’s). Munguia has improved as a boxer and evidently has carried his punching power to 168 but he’s no Dmitry Bivol, whose sublime skill and natural size advantage proved to be too much for Alvarez. I don’t think Munguia has technical ability to win that fight. He has earned the opportunity to prove me wrong, though.
Only Alvarez and those close to him know what direction he’s leaning for his next fight, presumably in May. Many believe the champion will defend his titles against unbeaten 160-pound titleholder and fellow PBC fighter Jermall Charlo in May. That means Munguia would have to wait until September at the earliest to receive his golden opportunity. He could wait until the fall to fight again – hoping he gets the Alvarez fight – or try to maintain his momentum by fighting again this spring. Potential opponents? Munguia vs. Benavidez would be special but a particularly dangerous option for Munguia. Caleb Plant would be an interesting test for him. And brawler Christian Mbilli has emerged as a player at 168. A victory over any of the above would make Munguia an even more attractive opponent for Alvarez. Stay tuned. …
Ryder could be finished. The Londoner made a splash by pushing Callum Smith to his limits in a disputed loss and then outpointing Daniel Jacobs. However, he has now suffered back-to-back one-sided losses, to Alvarez and Munguia. And he’s 35 years old. If he retires, Ryder will be remembered as a tough, courageous warrior who left everything he had in the ring. That’s a solid legacy. … Strawweight champion Oscar Collazo could be the next Puerto Rican star. The resident of New Jersey gave a breathtaking performance on the Munguia-Ryder card, beating up Reyneris Gutierrez (10-2, 2 KOs) before knocking him out in three rounds. Collazo (9-0, 7 KOs) appears to have an unusual combination of skill and punching power. I can’t wait to see him against next-level opposition.