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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: BENAVIDEZ AND MUNGUIA, NEXT AND NEXT

By Paul Magno | November 15, 2021
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: BENAVIDEZ AND MUNGUIA, NEXT AND NEXT

This past Saturday night, the immediate futures of the middleweight and super middleweight divisions showcased their abilities in frustratingly counter-programmed bouts on competing platforms. Knucklehead business dynamics aside, though, fans got a glimpse of what’s coming for the studs of 160 and 168.

On Showtime, David Benavidez battered an extremely game Kyrone Davis, forcing Davis’ corner to throw in the towel in the seventh round.

There wasn’t a whole lot of doubt as to who would win the 24-year-old Benavidez’s Phoenix homecoming bout. The intrigue came in how he would do it and how he’d look doing it with the memory of unified champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s masterful performance against Caleb Plant still fresh in everyone’s mind.

And while Benavidez didn’t look as technically or as tactically sharp as in previous outings, he did look damn good. He certainly looked good enough to keep his spot as THE super middleweight contender for Alvarez.

There’s realistically nobody else in the division who should be getting that Canelo sweepstakes call. Fights with Gennadiy Golovkin and, arguably, Jermall Charlo may be BIGGER and more bankable contests for the Mexican superstar, but he’d be pulling these guys up from 160. At 168, there’s only Benavidez when it comes to “real” opposition. 

It remains to be seen if Benavidez has the goods to put a hurting on Alvarez, but it’s a sure thing he’ll try. Unlike Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders, he’s no stylist or cutesy boxer. Unlike Callum Smith, he’s no awkward, unsure-of-himself boxer-puncher. 

Benavidez employs a high-level offense and has the ballsy confidence of a puncher. He’ll touch up Alvarez and take the fight to him like nobody else has in a good, long while-- including Golovkin, who was sometimes too respectful of Canelo’s counter firepower in their two meetings. That’s why Alvarez-Benavidez would be big-time fun. War would be guaranteed.

In terms of importance, I’d put an Alvarez-Benavidez clash high up on the list, but only if Canelo doesn’t have immediate plans to move up to light heavyweight and unify THAT division as well. 

Benavidez’s performance on Saturday night just confirmed what we already knew about the kid. He’s a bad-ass and would be more than willing to try and bust up a cash cow Canelo.

Meanwhile, at 160...Jaime Munguia made a case for himself as THE middleweight contender with a spirited unanimous decision victory over veteran warhorse Gabe Rosado.

The 25-year-old Tijuana native showed some head movement and a bit of nuance in a more mature performance than usual. It was a pleasant surprise to see him come out with more boxing after recent performances against tailor made fall guys made it look as though his modest skills were beginning to atrophy.

Mind you, Munguia can still be hit and Rosado certainly shined a spotlight on the Mexican’s well-established defensive liabilities. But, for the first time in a long time, Munguia didn’t look like an upset via shot-out-of-nowhere waiting to happen. He showed that, at the very least, he’s got the idea now that he can’t just walk through everyone, chin up and fists flailing. 

The middleweight division is not as orderly as the super middleweight class. WBC champ Jermall Charlo and IBF champ Gennadiy Golovkin can both make claims to be the man at 160. Secondary belt holders, WBO titlist Demetrius Andrade, WBA champ Erislandy Lara, and the other WBA champ Ryota Murata can all make claims to being top dogs as well. Contenders Chris Eubank Jr. and Sergiy Derevyanchenko are also firmly in place outside of the belt-holding set.

So, where does Munguia fit into this group?

The kid is just too raw and inconsistent to see him beating all of the above. But he’s also big and strong and self-confident enough to give any of the above a tough time on any given night. If I were to wager on the future of Jaime Munguia, I say he’d have a tough time getting by Golovkin and Andrade (for very different reasons) and could struggle with Derevyanchenko. Given the styles matchup, though, he has a chance against the sometimes too cold and clinical Charlo as well as the well past-prime Lara and the unfinished product that is Eubank (Murata will be knocked off by Golovkin in December). 

But no matter what happens with Munguia, he’s sure fun to watch. 

David Benavidez and Jaime Munguia both made statements this Saturday and cinched up their positions as title contenders. The honest and earnest battlers will bring a big punch and an affinity for causing pain with them to their next-level challenges. Fun times await.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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