Thursday, January 25, 2024

Can Munguia Get A Shot At Alvarez By Beating Ryder?

The month of January 2024 in the sport of Boxing will come to a close on Saturday, January 27th with an intriguing battle in Boxing's 168lb. Super-Middleweight division. An encounter that some might label a “Crossroads Fight." This observer is referring to the fight between undefeated former WBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Jaime Munguia and former multi-time world title challenger John Ryder. A fight that will take place in Phoenix, AZ at the Footprint Center and csn be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN.

What makes this fight interesting is it features one fighter in Munguia, who after having a successful reign as a world champion in the Jr. Middleweight division, has remained unbesten, but has not been able to secure an opportunity to fight for another world championship in either the 160lb. Middleweight or now as a 168lb. Super-Middleweight. While some might argue that Munguia deserves the label as being an avoided fighter in and around what is at times referred to as a “Weight Neighborhood," he has remained not only undefeated, but also as a potential opponent for the current Undisputed world champion of the Super-Middleweight division, Saul “Canelo" Alvarez.

With the obvious aim of trying to secure a title shot against Alvarez, Munguia, who is undefeated in forty-two professional fights with thirty-three knockouts, will turn to a man who's most recent outing was against Alvarez. Yours truly is referring to John Ryder, who traveled to Mexico in May of last year where he put forth a very “Game" effort in losing a twelve round unanimous decision in a failed attempt to dethrone Alvarez. 

This presents an interesting scenario as this fight approaches that is somewhat of an unwritten approach that is implemented at times by fighters who are labeled as avoided by trying to face fighters that have faced their target opponent in an attempt to stir not only public opinion, but also said target into a potential encounter. While this approach is in some ways as old as the sport itself, the obvious danger to said approach is by establishing a common opponent between the fighter seeking opportunity and the target opposition, it also allows the fighter with the previous experience against the target opponrnt, in this case Alvarez, an opportunity to bounce back and thus try to themself secure another opportunity.

Such a scenario is often interesting because of several factors. The most obvious among them is the question of whether the result of the fighter looking for an opportunity with a target opponent against a fighter who fought that potential opponent will be any different or perhaps better should that fighter also defeat said opponent. In this case, Alvarez defeated John Ryder via a unanimous decision in a fight where, despite being dropped and suffering a beating over twelve rounds including a broken nose, Ryder was able to go the distance with the champion and even had some success in the latter stages of that fight. The fact that Alvarez though having retained his undisputed championship convincingly, could not stop Ryder inside the distance will obviously create the potential comparison with Munguia, a fighter that has a near 80% career knockout percentage.

While some were critical of Ryder getting that opportunity against Alvarez, despite being a mandatory challenger at the time, the determined effort he put forth in that fight endeared him to Boxing fans and even though some might view him as a sacrificial opponent for Munguia, Ryder is still one of the top fighters in the Super-Middleweight division and no doubt views this fight as an opportunity to catapult himself back into the discussion of potential challengers for Alvarez. Ryder going twelve hard rounds with one of the top stars in the sport and withstanding everything Alvarez threw at him til the final bell, likely gives him confidence going into this fight against one of Boxing's noted “Knockout Artists."

Although Munguia has at times struggled to maintain that reputation as he has moved up in weight, he has scored knockouts in three of his last four bouts. With this in mind, the main question going into this fight will be whether Ryder can withstand Munguia’s punching power. John Ryder is a seasoned veteran who knows how to grind out tough decisions by forcing his opponents to engage in rough and often grueling fights where the main tactic has been his ability to apply pressure.

Whether or not Ryder can do that against someone of Munguia's reputation remains to be seen. It is also important to keep in mind, despite Munguia's ability to score quick and often devastating knockouts, there have been times throughout his career where even his best efforts, some fighters, much like Ryder was able to do against Alvarez, were able to go the distance with Munguia, most notably former world title challengers Gabriel Roaado and most recently Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who Munguia was able to drop, but could not finish. 

While it is by no means set in stone that the winner of this fight will be in the immediate future for Alvarez, who likely will have some mandatory title defenses in the pipeline in order to remain an undisputed champion, nevertheless, there is an opportunity for both Munguia and Ryder to try and produce the type of performance that will drum up public demand for either to get an opportunity to fight for the Undisputed Super-Middleweight championship of the world. Only time will tell whether the winner of this fight will be able to maneuver themselves into such an opportunity during 2024 or beyond.

“And That's The Boxing Truth."

Munguia vs. Ryder takes place on Saturday, January 27th at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ. The card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning with preliminary bouts at 5:30PM ET/2:30PM PT. This will be followed by the main card beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT.

For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, and to subscribe please visit: 

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