Coach Sees Munguia As ‘Big Test’ For Canelo After Experiencing Both Up Close

Tony Sims believes that the decline he has observed in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Jaime Munguia’s consistent improvement makes Saturday’s fight between them increasingly competitive.

Sims oversaw John Ryder’s fights with both during the past 12 months, and has therefore followed their progress into their undisputed super-middleweight title fight at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

The all-Mexican affair has been organised for the occasion of Cinco de Mayo weekend – Ryder was Alvarez’s challenger 12 months earlier in Guadalajara – and represents Munguia’s first fight since January, when his stoppage of Ryder forced the Briton’s retirement.

Alvarez has since eased to victory over Jermell Charlo – before fighting Ryder, Munguia narrowly defeated Sergiy Derevyanchenko – but ahead of the fight for which Alvarez remains the significant favourite, the respected Sims said: “At this stage of ‘Canelo’s’ career it’s a big test. If you’d asked me that a couple of years ago I’d have said Canelo would be the overwhelming favourite. 

“But Canelo definitely ain’t the fighter he was – that happens to everyone with a long career. He’s still a quality fighter and he’s still got that quality about him, where he’s still superior to Munguia. He obviously punches hard; he’s very, very clever in what he does; he’s more economical now in what he does. He’s still got the same timing; he’s very clever; he reads what you’re doing, and he downloads that in his brain and can read what’s coming next. 

“Munguia, on the other hand, is very explosive. He does punch really hard as well; he’s not quite as smart as Canelo is, so he gets caught a lot more than Canelo does. It’s gonna be a really intriguing fight, and I’m gonna be intrigued to watch it as a fan.

“He just nicked that fight [against Derevyanchenko in June 2023]. The knockdown won the fight for him in the last round. But it was a really hard fight, and it was a good step-up fight for him; he learned a lot in that fight; he’s quite a big lump at super middleweight. It’s brought him on as a fighter, that fight – without that fight he wouldn’t have been as good as he was in the Ryder fight, preparation-wise. 

“We’ve seen him die a bit in later rounds; sometimes you have that fight where it’s a do-or-die fight where you learn a lot about yourself, where he hung in there going through some bad moments. Experience-wise, he learned a lot in that fight and became a better fighter because of that.”

Ryder recovered from a knockdown to be consistently competitive against Alvarez, 33, in the Mexican’s home city, and at altitude. Seven months later he was dropped four times by the 27-year-old Munguia, before being stopped in the ninth round.

“When Eddie Hearn met up with Canelo a little while ago, Eddie said to him – this is before Munguia’s fight with Ryder – ‘What do you think?’, and Canelo said to him, ‘I don’t think Ryder’s going to be the same fighter after he fought me – that would have took a lot out of him’, which John will readily admit himself,” Sims continued. “A fight like that takes a bit out of your career. I said to John, ‘The amount of shots you took against Canelo was probably the amount of shots that you took in your [previous] six fights – look at the Zach Parker fight, you probably took two shots all night’. 

“He did go down, and he’d never been down before as well. He took a lot – a lot – of punishment in that fight and it went on for 12 rounds as well. If you looked at the state of his face – it probably did really age him. He was 35 as well; a lot of fights. John wasn’t the fighter going into the Munguia fight that he was going into the Canelo fight. It definitely took a lot out of him, and it was at the end of his career as well, so if you do compare both of them fights, I wouldn’t go on that to determine who will win.

“I think Canelo will beat Munguia, even though I think it’s going to be a good fight. Munguia will have his moments in that fight; he’s learned a lot over his last couple of fights; he’s fought up at the weight. He’s quite big at the weight, and would have learned a lot fighting Ryder and fighting Derevyanchenko, but not enough to beat Canelo. Canelo, even though he’s probably coming to the end – and that’s probably why he don’t wanna fight [David] Benavidez at the moment – he knows he’s coming to the end, but I still think he’ll have a bit too much savvy for Munguia. He’ll work him out within a few rounds, and I do think he’ll go on points. I don’t think there’ll be stoppages – I don’t even think there’ll be knockdowns. Canelo will read what Munguia’s doing and counter everything he does and land more punches and win on points.

“It’s an all-Mexican affair. We know what Cinco de Mayo’s all about; anyone who’s been to Vegas on a Cinco de Mayo weekend knows the atmosphere that that brings. That’s just with one Mexican fighter, let alone two. We know Munguia – when he boxed John in Phoenix I was quite shocked. The stadium was full up, and it was a big stadium. It was all Mexicans, so I was quite shocked how big a name he is. For them two to be fighting against each other; two big Mexican names, who both come and fight… I wish I could have been there. 

“I’d have definitely flown to that fight for the weekend to watch that fight. I’ve got [Joe] Cordina fighting in Saudi Arabia on the 18th [May against Anthony Cacace] so I can’t do anything but I’d definitely have gone to that fight – for the fight; for the atmosphere – it’s gonna be a wonderful occasion.”