Canelo may be older and slower – but the King shows why he is not finished yet

Jaime Munguia was younger, bigger and unbeaten when he faced his compatriot - but Canelo is smarter than he has ever been and the search for his decline will inevitably go on a little longer

Steve Bunce
Sunday 05 May 2024 13:09 BST
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Saul “Canelo” Alvarez still has a few good, hard and memorable fights left. On Saturday night in Las Vegas, boxing’s number one attraction won for the 61st time when he beat Jaime Munguia to retain his four world super-middleweight titles. The belts, the capacity crowd inside the T-Mobile, the money are just the latest numbers now in the Canelo story.

The simple facts are not enough; Canelo, as he is normally known, has the most impressive record in boxing and against Munguia, who was younger, bigger and unbeaten in 43 fights, he slowly took control of the fight. Canelo was smart, careful with his work and in round four, dropped Munguia when an opening appeared. Munguia had never been dropped before in his career; the perfect right uppercut and short left hook would have dropped a big mule.

Munguia was always in the fight, but he was never winning it after the third round. He was big enough to force Canelo back, landing with heavy jabs and dropping his right hand in during those early rounds. The problem for all Canelo opponents is that the Mexican idol has both a great chin and the ability to measure all your work. The knockdown in the fourth was the result of patience, timing and perfect measurement. The crowd loved it.

Canelo remained the undisputed super-middleweight champion in Las Vegas
Canelo remained the undisputed super-middleweight champion in Las Vegas (Getty Images)

Munguia knew that he had to force the fight in the last few rounds and in the ninth all three judges scored the round for him; Canelo simply increased his work in the 10th round. Canelo is a bit slower than he once was, he is a lot smarter than he has ever been, and the search for his decline will inevitably go on a little longer.

Munguia is six years younger and seemed a weight divsion heavier in the ring, and after 43 fights he can hardly be described as a novice. However, Canelo’s ringcraft and gifts are so huge that he makes very good men look average at times. Munguia looked bemused at times, never defeated, just a bit confused. In 2013, Canelo was just a kid when he was beaten for the first time by Floyd Mayweather; on the night, Mayweather simply knew too much and that was similar to Saturday’s fight. “Floyd taught me so much,” remembered Canelo when he was reminded of the similarities. The official scores against Munguia were 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.

“He will come again,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Munguia’s promoter and one-time promoter and friend of Canelo. At the final press conference in Las Vegas last week, Canelo and De La Hoya had to be separated. De La Hoya then initiated legal proceedings to stop Canelo repeating some of the financial claims he made about their relationship. It made for a lot of extra tension in the days and hours before the first bell; Canelo was full of praise for Munguia at the end, but there was no end to his feud with De La Hoya.

(Getty Images)

Now Canelo must look at his options and look carefully; he is 33, has fought 65 times and he turned professional in 2005. He must know that every boxer reaches a point when the defences are less effective, the punches lose their power, and the feet are attached to heavier legs. He has nothing left to prove in boxing, just a steady conveyor of young men desperate to topple the king.

The next man might just be a very dangerous one; David Benavidez has been chasing Canelo for a long time. He is unbeaten in 28 fights, tall, dangerous and available. “I will fight him, no problem,” said Canelo. “It will cost a lot of money.” The figure of $200m was mentioned. That figure could be available, Saudi Arabia could be the venue. King Canelo is not finished just yet.

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