Put some respect on Jaime Munguia's name. On Saturday, Munguia of Tijuana, Mexico (43-0, 34 KOs) did what unified, undisputed Canelo Alvarez failed to do one year ago. He scored four knockdowns and stopped the durable John Ryder of Islington, UK (32-7, 18 KOs) with an impressive, focused performance.
Munguia put it all together in front of 10,836 fans at the Footprint Center in Phoenix and staked his claim to title fight opportunities in the 168-pound division.
“I got ready for this. I know that I work really really hard for this,” said Munguia of his victory. “I know a lot of people didn't believe in me, but this is the result of hard work. We're ready for 168.”
Munguia scored knockdowns in the second and fourth rounds, and two more in the ninth round, all on straight right hands or right hooks. After the second knockdown, Ryder regrouped and Munguia slowed his output, allowing Ryder to win a few rounds on the scorecards. NY Fights gave Ryder the sixth and seventh rounds.
But after the breather, Munguia was ready to close the show, and brought the heat to bring the fight and likely the career of Ryder to an end.
Power, Patience, and Pacing
Now working with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach after his previous trainer Erik Morales decided to run for Mayor in Tijuana (true), the pairing paid off. Roach gave Munguia a few more wrinkles, including a left hook to the hip, but also instilled the need to be patient and thoughtful with his offensive output, rather than risking every second of every round.
“Last time (in his fight of the year against Sergiy Derevyanchenko), I was just throwing punches like crazy. But this time my timing was better. My timing was perfect. It was a great fight, but we're ready to keep on going.”
Ryder used exceptional ring generalship and timing to look for openings and stay out of Munguia's way. He caught Munguia with multiple shots, but not enough and not with enough power to derail the Jaime train.
Munguia used his good left jab to set up the straight right hand and right hooks. They couldn't miss all night. Roach said during training camp he worked on punch placement with Munguia, including the (barely legal) hip punch and putting the right hand on the temple.
It was the right-hand temple shot that turned out the lights in the ninth round on Ryder. He beat the count, but trainer Tony Sims tried to get referee Wes Melton's attention to stop the fight. Melton was focused on Munguia and Ryder. Finally, it was the timekeeper who rang the bell for an official stoppage time of 1:25 of round 9.
“He's a tough fighter. He's a hard-headed fighter. My hand actually hurts because I hit him so much in the head,” laughed Munguia. “This fight for my people, for all of Mexico.”
Ryder was advised by medical personnel to take it easy after the fight and didn't address the boxing media. Matchroom Boxing chairman Eddie Hearn said, “We really believed he could win tonight. The start was a bit of a nightmare. Beaten by the younger, fresher man,” said Hearn. “That was the biggest and most impressive win of his career so far,” adding Ryder would need to consider his future in boxing seriously.
Munguia Wins, Start The Canelo Countdown
Munguia said he felt great. “I'm motivated for the next fight. It's going to be better than this one, and every time, I'm going to get better every time.”
It raised the inevitable speculation about Munguia becoming the next opponent for unified, undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. Enthusiasm is growing for the matchup, especially after Munguia's excellent performance Saturday. Munguia avoided calling out his countryman by name.
“We don't know yet. There's nothing on the table yet. But we want the best of the best at 168. We are going to be world champions,” declared Munguia. When it was pointed out to him that all the titles are currently in Canelo's hands, Munguia said, “It will be a great fight among Mexicans, and if Canelo will give me the chance, it will be an honor to be in the same ring as him.”
Golden Boy Boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya is all for a matchup between Alvarez and Munguia, but not until September. “That's the fight to make. September is the fight to make with CA. And all of you hopefully can push that! An all-Mexican showdown in September of this year, imagine that. Statement made!”
There are promotional issues to work out among promoters and networks, but there's no denying the newly energized appeal of an Alvarez vs. Munguia bout. Freddie Roach would surely love to get a little revenge for Miguel Cotto's loss to Canelo in 2014. After the improvements made by Munguia with just one training camp with Roach, imagine the potential to sharpen Munguia's skills even more.
Oscar Collazo Delivers Crowd Pleasing Win
British fight fants promised an exciting fight for fans against Reyneris Gutierrez of Nicaragua (10-2, 2 KOs). He delivered a third-round TKO to defend his WBO Minimumweight Champion title.
Noting he had only seen a single round of video on Gutierrez, Collazo observed his opponent, then got down to work. He applied pressure to get inside and deliver right and left hooks. A left hook that scored the knockdown in round three, dropping Gutierrez down on his knees. The Nicaraguan beat the count, and referee Chris Flores let the fight continue.
But it wasn't much longer, stepping in for good at 2:37 of round three when Collazo pinned Gutierrez to the corner, drilling him with shots.
Giving himself an A for the performance, Collazo said, “It was a good way to show the world I'm the best 105-pounder out there.”
Collazo said it was a matter of time. “Eventually step by step with my punches, I knew in that round I was going to land a big shot. I know I'm a good finisher in the ring. When I see them stumble bad and they're hurt, I'm coming for the kill.” Collazo says his goal is to unify the minimumweight division in 2024, and then move up to face the top names at 112 and 115 pounds.
Fulghum Goes the Distance Against Fox
Super middleweight prospect Darius Fulghum of Houston (10-0, 9 KOs) took an important step forward with a victory over veteran contender Alantez Fox of Upper Marlboro, Maryland (28-6-1, 13 KOs).
Saying it failed to be a crowd-pleaser was an understatement. Fox failed to make weight, and just a few rounds into the fight, Fox started losing steam and began playing keep away from Fulghum. The fans found other things to do, like the wave. The scorecards were as perplexing as the performances. Fulghum wins a majority decision by scores of 100-90, 98-92 – and a 95-95 draw. Say what?
Fulghum said he was disappointed. “I really wanted to impress the crowd tonight, but at the end of the day, I’m glad that I had the experience because I needed those rounds. Fox is a tough veteran, and I learned a lot about myself in this fight. I can't wait to go back into the gym, take the lessons I learned, and improve.”
Fulghum wins a minor WBA title for his efforts.
Fundora Gets TKO In First Flyweight Title Defense
Gabriela Fundora of Coachella, California (13-0, 6 KOs) made a successful defense of her newly won IBF World Flyweight title against Christina Cruz of Fort Lauderdale, Florida (6-1) with a tenth-round TKO at 59 seconds of the round.
Cruz, age 41, is an accomplished amateur champion who turned pro late in her career. She outboxed Fundora in the early rounds. Golden Boy Boxing executive and Hall of Fame champion Bernard Hopkins stood and shouted at Fundora to let her hands go after the fourth round. Fundora took BHop to heart, backing up Cruz and landing hard body and headshots to slow Cruz down.
The stoppage by referee Chris Flores ignited controversy. Fundora doubled over Cruz with a hard left. She covered her head with her back to Fundora. Flores immediately waved the fight off, though Cruz didn’t seem unable to continue. Still, the rules are clear. NY Fights had the fight scored five rounds to four for Fundora and would have turned in a 96-94 scorecard.
“Christina Cruz is a good fighter and I’m glad she stepped up to the plate because a lot of boxers don't do that,” said Fundora. “She’s an amazing boxer and when I was younger, I looked up to her because she was an Olympian. I even had a picture of her on my bedroom wall.
“It was a privilege to share the ring with her tonight and I’m glad the referee stopped the fight when he did. I unleashed on her, and she turned around indicating that she no longer wanted to fight,” said Fundora.
Fundora landed 110 of 422 punches thrown (26%) against 65 of 292 punches thrown for Cruz (22%).
Picasso Pounds Out Win Over Ruiz
Alan “Rey David” Picasso of Mexico City, Mexico (26-0-1, 15 KOs) was expected to have an easy time against Erik Ruiz of Oxnard, California (17-9-1, 7 KOs). Someone forgot to tell Ruiz, who stepped away from the ring, to address out-of-the-ring problems. Now a year sober, Ruiz banged away with Picasso to the delight of the Phoenix fans.
Picasso won the first five rounds of the ten-round bout but suffered a rib injury and shifted to survival move, choosing to box and jab. Ruiz wasn’t able to capitalize with a win, but going the distance after a year of sobriety is a victory anyone can respect. Picasso remains undefeated with a decision by scores of 99-91, 98-92, and 98-92 in the featherweight fight.
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