Sunday, June 16, 2024

Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez to fight first Mexican rival in over 6 years

Mexican super middleweight Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez will be returning to the boxing ring on Cinco de Mayo weekend to defend his undisputed world title against countryman Jaime Munguía — the first time Álvarez will have fought a Mexican boxer in nearly seven years.

Organizers of the May 4 bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas announced the fight on Tuesday.

Canelo vs Munguía poster
The match was made official this week. (Saúl Canelo Álvarez/X)

Álvarez, who fought exclusively in Mexico from his 2005 debut until his first bout in the U.S. five years later, has come under fire in recent years for saying he didn’t want to fight Mexicans.

The Guadalajara native’s last Mexican opponent was Julio César Chávez Jr. in 2017, and only three of his 34 fights since 2011 have been against Mexican-born boxers. He even told the TV Azteca network in February that his May 4 opponent would be “an American.”

The bout was only decided upon after a long period of drama and negotiation over who that opponent would be — with more twists and turns than a telenovela.

Álvarez has a 60-2-2 record with 39 knockouts following his latest fight in September, when he made easy work of Jermell Charlo. The 168-pounder currently possesses all four super middleweight championship belts: from the World Boxing Council (WBC), the World Boxing Association (WBA), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO).

Canelo and Charlo stand face to face in front of a digital screen with information about their fight.
Canelo and Charlo in their September face-off. (Canelo Álvarez/Instagram)

The scheduled fight falls two months before Álvarez’s 34th birthday, with retirement seemingly looming.

Munguía is a 27-year-old from Tijuana with a career record of 43-0, including 34 wins by knockout. Having improved under Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, he is coming off a career-best win — a ninth-round technical knockout (TKO) in January of now-retired British boxer John Ryder.

Munguía is rated No. 4 by ESPN at 168 pounds; Álvarez is No. 1 at that weight and is also ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer.

Álvarez also plans to fight on Mexico’s Independence Day weekend in September, ESPN reported.

Many boxing fans were hoping the May 4 opponent would be David Benavídez, the WBC’s mandatory super middleweight challenger. The Phoenix native has a Mexican father and is nicknamed “El Bandera Roja” (the Red Flag) and “The Mexican Monster.”

But Benavídez (28-0, 24 by KO) is six years younger and four inches taller than Álvarez, with a 10-centimeter longer reach and just as powerfully built. Citing these factors, some have accused Álvarez of ducking Benavídez.

However, Álvarez denied such claims, telling TalkSport’s Michael Benson, “Look at my history, I’ve done everything in boxing. I’ve done it all.”

Amazon Prime and DAZN have secured pay-per-view rights for the upcoming bout, which will be shown for free in Mexico.

With reports from El Universal, ESPN and Marca

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