Alvarez-Munguia Fight Week Diary: Day One

Boxing Scene

Tuesday, April 30

Word on the ground in Las Vegas is that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next opponent will be Edgar Berlanga.

On Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena he defends his undisputed super-middleweight title against Jaime Munguia, and for all that theirs is an all-Mexican fight on the occasion of Cinco de Mayo weekend, Munguia is widely considered a less appealing opponent than would be David Benavidez.

There is also little question Berlanga would prove a considerably less popular opponent than Munguia. The suggestion, increasingly, is that he will be installed as Alvarez’s mandatory challenger by the WBO, and that on this occasion a fighter who has long been more influential and powerful than any of the sanctioning bodies will agree to their request, forcing the cynics who follow his career to question if he is doing so simply because of the justification it presents him with to enter so obviously a winnable fight.

The occasion of Cinco de Mayo was regardless mentioned throughout the so-called “grand arrivals” at Vegas’ MGM Grand. BoxingScene was in Alvarez’s home city of Guadalajara when he fought John Ryder on the same weekend in 2023, and therefore learned how little it actually means to Mexicans and the extent to which it serves as a promotional tool for those involved in boxing.

The Cinco de Mayo fight date used to be the far-from Mexican Floyd Mayweather’s. Perhaps that is why Leonard Ellerbe attended the grand arrivals and made himself available to speak. Before Mayweather, it used to be Oscar De La Hoya’s. Why De La Hoya, as Munguia’s co-promoter, attended and refused to speak remains unclear.

None other than Freddie Roach was De La Hoya’s trainer the night he fought and lost to Mayweather in 2007, after which De La Hoya’s determination to blame him for defeat made their relationship increasingly tense. Roach is training Munguia for their second fight together – later on Tuesday BoxingScene was told he is relishing training Munguia more than any other fighter since Manny Pacquiao, who forced De La Hoya’s retirement in 2008 – but when he and De La Hoya were on stage together at the lobby of the MGM Grand they were relaxed in each other’s company.

Much can change before Friday’s weigh-in, but when Munguia appeared on stage – wearing a Wild Card Boxing-branded t-shirt – he looked healthy, and ready to fight. It seemed strange that he was then asked about the game plan Dmitrii Bivol used to defeat Alvarez in May 2022 – it’s difficult to think of an opponent Munguia is less like.

When Alvarez made his entrance, he was asked about the sign being held by a fan in support of Benavidez. BoxingScene was also in Vegas when Alvarez fought Amir Khan in May 2016 – a time when there existed an increasing demand for him to fight Gennady Golovkin. He, inevitably, was repeatedly asked about Golovkin that week, and when he answered spoke with the air of someone ready and willing to fight the opponent he was being asked about. He was equally as convincing when he was inevitably asked about Benavidez on Tuesday afternoon – it might even be that if and when he defeats Berlanga, Alvarez-Benavidez will follow.

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