Posted on 01/28/2024
By: Sean Crose
At 35 years of age, and with a record of 32-6, former Canelo Alvarez opponent John Ryder aimed for a final chance at greatness Saturday night when he stepped into the ring at Phoenix’ Footprint Center to face Jaime Munguia in a scheduled 12 round super middleweight affair. The grizzled Ryder, however, was not the favorite walking in on Saturday. Indeed, it had been indicated that the gutsy Englishman was merely brought in to be a showcase opponent for the 27 year old, 42-0 Munguia. Unlike Ryder, Munguia had once held a world title while never having tasted defeat.
There were questions regarding Munguia’s career choices, however, one being why at this point in his career he was still facing the likes a Ryder, who was seen as a skilled, serviceable individual who had nonetheless never spent time in the spotlight. Furthermore, Munguia had come within a figurative hair’s breadth from losing his last fight, a 2023 war with Sergiy Derevyanchenko. In other words, the former WBO junior middleweight champion had something to prove on Saturday, namely that he was ready to move on to A-list opposition. He may well have ended up convincing some people that he was.
The first round was intense, with each man positioning himself to strike effectively while the ten thousand people in the audience made sure the atmosphere was electric. Both fighters were able to land, though Munguia may have been more active. A thunderous Munguia combination in the second did something Canelo couldn’t – put Ryder on the mat. Ryder beat the count and went on to fight gamely. Perhaps surprisingly, Ryder went on to have a strong third for himself. He was clearly not as fast as Munguia, but he was able to work the body well.
Munguia scored a flash knockdown at the end of the fourth. Again, Ryder beat the count, but Munguia’s power was the separating factor at that point in the fight. What’s more, Ryder was being a bit too patient as he waited for the opportunity to counterpunch. The fifth round of what was undoubtedly an entertaining affair saw each man land well. Munguia, however, was proving that he was able to absorb Ryder’s punishment heading into the midpoint of the fight. Still, Ryder may have won the sixth through clean, solid punching.
Munguia looked as if he might be starting to gas out in the seventh. Ryder was able to continue to land clean while Munguia remained less active than he had been throughout the fight up until then. With that being said, it looked like Ryder was about to be stopped in the first half of the eighth. Impressively, however, Ryder survived the onslaught and performed quite well in the round’s second half. An absolute freight train of a strain right put Ryder down for the third time early in the ninth. Ryder again got up, but Munguia put him right back down. Yet, to his eternal credit, Ryder once more got up.
This time, Munguia was not going to let his man get away. Ryder’s corner stopped the fight while Munguia hammered away on their man. “Ryder was a great fighter, but we’re ready to keep on going,” Munguia said afterward. “I feel great, I’m motivated for the next fight.” When asked if he wanted to fight super middleweight king Canelo, Munguia responded politely in the affirmative. “If Canelo gives us a chance, it would be an honor to be in the same ring as him,” he said.
*Photo: Golden Boy Promotions