What took place between Munguia and Gabe Rosado was a good ol' fashioned fight. Punches were thrown, punches were landed – and a good time was had by all. There was an artistic violence to what took place over 12 heated rounds at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California this past weekend.
Sometimes it’s best not to wax too poetically about these things, but just appreciate what took place.
But this much is clear, after winning a clear cut decision over Rosado: Munguia is clearly evolving as a fighter under the tutelage of Erik Morales.
Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada for Golden Boy Promotions
And with that said, it’s time for Munguia to make a run at one of the middleweight titles. At age 25, and with nearly 40 bouts under his belt, he can no longer be described as a young, developing prospect. Which in all fairness is exactly what he was when he wore the WBO junior middleweight title around his waist a couple of years ago.
Back in 2018 he had the fortune of facing the blown up Sadam Ali (he of the fast hands and soft chin) for that belt, after he upset the departing Miguel Cotto. After blowing him out in five rounds, Munguia embarked on a series of carefully hand-picked title defenses (although, to his credit, he did decision Liam Smith) and a funny thing happened along the way.
He didn’t get any better, in fact, he seemed to regress under trainer Robert Alcazar. It was after the bout with Dennis Hogan -- a fight he was very fortunate to have retained his title -- the the brain trust at Zanfer Promotions (who are his lead promoters, with Golden Boy Promotions) made the decision to bring in Morales, to more or less, make him more of a traditional Mexican-style fighter, who understood how to best harness his aggression.
As you saw Munguia this past weekend, there was still a high work rate and consistent pressure. But now there is more subtleties to his game. He does a better job of utilizing his jab when moving forward, and Munguia now tucks in his chin a bit more. No, he will never be a particularly elusive boxer, but on more than a few occasions he would turn and roll with punches.
Photo Credit: Kevin Estrada for Golden Boy Promotions
But even with these added nuances to his arsenal, he is still a fan-friendly fighter. Much the way ‘el Terrible’ was during his terrific career. You can be an entertaining, yet sound, prizefighter. Munguia is starting to hit that sweet spot.
During this transition to middleweight under the tutelage of Morales, Munguia has faced the likes of Spike O’Sullivan, Tureano Johnson, Kamil Szeremeta and now Rosado. He is rated number one by the WBO (whose title is held by Demetrius Andrade) and WBC (where Jermall Charlo is the champion).
It’s time for one of these organizations to enforce this mandatory. And for Zanfer and Golden Boy to see what they really have in Munguia. Again, he’s in his physical prime at age 25, and has a record of 38-0(30 Kos) to his credit.
As George Allen once said, ''the future is now."
Or is he just waiting for Andrade and/or Charlo to just vacate their belts, and face lesser opposition for these straps? Either piss – or get off the pot. Sanctioning bodies need to follow their own rules and regularly enforce their mandatories, and boxers should be clamoring to have their number called for title shots. There was a time when men like Marvelous Marvin Hagler were locked out of the title picture, now boxers and their handlers regularly embargo themselves if the defending champion is not to their liking.
These number one spots should not be held up by fighter’s and their managements, as they wait for easier paths to titles. The sanctioning bodies can do their part for the sport by putting boxers on the spot and forcing them into fights, or lose their positions in the rankings.
So putting aside any promotional divides, or network alliances, the sanctioning bodies need to mandate these bouts, get out of the way, then let the promoters figure it out.
Because of Munguia’s profile, he has options. There is a lot of talk of him facing Gennadiy Golovkin, who has to face Ryoto Murata in Japan in late December in a title unification bout. Back a few years ago, Munguia was nixed as a possible opponent for ‘GGG’ by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as he was deemed a bit too green to face such a formidable foe. The consensus is that Munguia has now ripened as a professional prizefighter.
Golovkin is now 39 years old. Many believe he has died on the vine.
Again, if Munguia isn’t ready for this now, when will he ever be?
Meanwhile at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, former two-time WBC 168 pound titlist, David Benavidez scored a 7th round stoppage of late replacement, Kyrone Davis. Many viewed this as an audition for undisputed super middleweight champion, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp, Showtime Sports
In many ways it is an enticing match-up. Benavidez has an entertaining, two-fisted style, and he would bring the fight to Canelo. One thing Alvarez has not faced in recent years is a pressure fighter. On the flip side, Benavidez would give the Mexican star plenty of counter-punching opportunities, and you could argue that Canelo is the best puncher he will have ever faced.
Regardless, it's a good fight -- and one that is sellable to the public.
“Everybody wants to see me against Canelo, right?," said Benavidez, after the fight. "I don’t care what his assessment of my fight is but they keep putting these contenders in front of me. My last fight was a WBC Title Eliminator and that’s why I’m here holding my belts. They need to give me the opportunity. I’ll go through anybody. Whoever they want me to go through. If (Jermall) Charlo wants it, he can get it too. But he doesn’t want to get in the ring with me.”
On this night, Benavidez got a pretty good fight from Davis considering the circumstances. Davis came in on just a few weeks notice in place of Jose Uzcategui, and is really a natural middleweight. He tried his best to battle the offensive juggernaut in front of him, but simply didn't have the pure power to stave off Benavidez.
It was an admirable effort.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Davis said. “I wish I could have pulled out the victory. I don’t like losing. I came in on two weeks’ notice. Shame on (Jose) Uzcategui for being on steroids. I had to come in on short notice but I fought like a warrior. I’m living my dream. I love coming out here and putting on a great show. Fighting is in my blood. I was raised like this.”
Early on in the 7th round, Stephen 'Breadman' Edwards made the decision to throw in the towel, and let his guy live to fight another day. It was the correct move. One that other trainers should take note of in the future.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime Sports
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