Weekend Review: Canelo Alvarez gave vintage performance. David Benavidez next?

A critical look at the past week in boxing

Canelo Alvarez

Alvarez probably isn’t the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, as he suggested after his one-sided decision over Jaime Munguia on Saturday in Las Vegas. That nod goes to Terence Crawford (Boxing Junkie’s No. 1) or Naoya Inoue these days.

The 33-year-old Mexican star is making a strong case that news of his decline is premature, however.

Alvarez (61-2-2, 39 KOs) looked like a fading fighter in his loss to Dmitry Bivol in 2022 and sluggish victories over Gennadiy Golovkin and John Ryder that followed. He looked a lot more like the old sharpshooting Alvarez in decisions over Jermell Charlo and now Munguia.

What was the difference? He’s healthy. His surgically repaired left wrist, which dogged him through is worst performances, is now 100%.

He certainly looked to be near his best against Munguia, who unloaded a lot of punches but couldn’t pierce Alvarez’s secure defense consistently enough to make the fight close. And Alvarez, who throws fewer punches but makes them count, landed almost at will. He landed 49.7% of his power punches, according to CompuBox.

The result was arguably Alvarez’s best performance since he dominated Callum Smith in 2020, one that certainly maintains his membership in the exclusive pound-for-pound club.

However, it’s important not to get carried away. Impressive victories over Charlo and Munguia carry limited weight because the former moved up two divisions for the fight and Munguia is still developing. Even Alvarez alluded to a glaring weakness on the part of the latter after the fight.

“He’s strong, but he’s a little slow. I can see every punch [coming],” Alvarez said.

Alvarez has one obvious way of proving beyond doubt that he is the same fighter who climbed to the top of many pound-for-pound lists and remained there for years: Beating David Benavidez, a formidable fighter many believe he has been ducking.

He was asked again after his victory over Munguia whether he’d be willing to finally face Benavidez, who is scheduled to take on Oleksandr Gvozdyk at 175 pounds on June 15.

Alvarez made it clear that he would do so if the money is right, meaning he demands that his payday be commensurate with the risk of facing his biggest threat at 168. And, while he was still inside the ropes, he saw Benavidez in the crowd, locked eyes with him and pointed to the ring as if to say, “I’ll meet you here.”

Let’s hope he’s serious. The fans want to see that fight, assuming Benavidez defeats the capable Gvozdyk. And Alvarez needs to make a better case that he really is the best.


Jaime Munguia

Jaime Munguia left the ring a disappointed man. Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Munguia said his first setback was painful. Of course, it was. The 27-year-old from Tijuana had a chance to make history and fell short.

He shouldn’t be too hard on himself, however, He must remember who beat him, a future Hall of Famer with more experience in big fights than anyone else in boxing. A lot of good fighters have lost to Alvarez.

I believe the Munguia we saw on Saturday night could beat almost anyone else in the division. He might not be quick by Alvarez’s standards but he’s fast enough to land punches consistently against good opponents, as we saw in his victories over Sergey Derevyanchenko and John Ryder.

No one can dent the chin of Alvarez, it seems, but Munguia also has the power to hurt or at least gain the respect of any other opponent. He became the first to stop the rugged Ryder in January, which Alvarez couldn’t do.

And he showed a lot of grit. I thought the end might be near when he was knocked down by a perfect right uppercut in Round 4. Instead, he weathered the storm, continued to fight his heart out and never gave up even though Alvarez controlled the rest of the bout.

The point is that Munguia is an excellent fighter, especially after working with trainer Freddie Roach for his last two fights. It’s still too easy to hit him but he has and can continue to improve in that department.

In fact, he could follow the lead of Alvarez, who evolved from a solid defensive fighter into a one of the best in the world by working at it.

If Munguia maintains his confidence after the first loss of his decade-long career and continues to evolve, he could still become the dominating force he and his handlers have envisioned for him.

“It’s just like Floyd Mayweather versus Canelo,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Munguia’s promoter. “Canelo got schooled and then he became the face of boxing.”

Indeed, his time isn’t now but it could come soon.



Welterweight contender Eimantas Stanionis made a strong statement in his unanimous decision victory over Gabriel Maestre on the Alvarez-Munguia undercard even though he was returning from a two-year layoff. The secondary titleholder used intelligent pressure to control the fight, attacking relentlessly behind his heavy jab while maintaining a strong defensive guard. Maestre (6-1-1, 5 KOs) had his moments but couldn’t cope long term. Stanionis (15-0, 9 KOs) looked like a bigger, perhaps better version of Isaac Cruz, another elite fighter who uses pressure to overwhelm opponents. I don’t know whether Stanionis can beat the gifted Jaron Ennis but everyone else in the 147-pound division should be wary of this fighting machine. Maestre? He clearly is a good fighter. I hope the 37-year-old gets at least one more big fight to prove what he can do. … Welterweight contender Mario Barrios (29-2, 18 KOs) and Fabian Maidana (22-3, 16 KOs) served up a dud on the Alvarez-Munguia card, with Barrios winning a unanimous decision. Blame Maidana, the brother of Marcos Maidana. He let his hands go here and there but largely came to survive and had the ability to do so, which made it difficult for Barrios to look good. Barrios obviously could’ve done a better job of cutting off the ring but he deserves a pass given his opponent’s tactics. …

Featherweight contender Brandon Figueroa (25-1-1, 19 KOs) got off to a slow start against a surprisingly effective Jessie Magdaleno (29-3, 18 KOs) but found his rhythm by mid-fight and then ended matters with a brutal left to the liver in the ninth round after 14 months out of the ring. I don’t know what was going on in the first third of the fight. Maybe it was rust. Maybe it was Magdaleno, whose stick-hold-and-move strategy worked well for a while. Maybe it was something else, maybe Figueroa was trying to prove in the first few rounds that he’s not a mere brawler, that he can box too. Obviously, he can box. It takes skill to build a successful record even if you’re a pressure fighter. He doesn’t need to prove that. He should stick with what woks from the opening bell, which is to smother his opponents in punches. … News broke on Wednesday that samples provided by Ryan Garcia before his victory over Devin Haney on April 20 tested positive for the banned substance Ostarine. Garcia said he would never knowingly take steroids, which is the standard line in such a situation. Doesn’t matter. I’ve said this a million times: Fighters are responsible for what goes into their bodies. If an investigation confirms that he had PEDs in his system, it’s on him.

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie