Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/9) Table Of Contents:
Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 2 Undercard
We are a little more than five weeks away from the highly-anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, but so far we have not had any undercard fights fully announced, though according to reports, the pay-per-view card is shaping up to be one of the best televised boxing cards of 2018.
Numerous reports seem to indicate that a number of top stars, including Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia, David Lemieux, and more are going to fight on the pay-per-view portion of the September 15 mega event that will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
As it stands, though not official, here is what the full pay-per-view card will be for the September 15 pay-per-view and like with all combat sports, the card is always subject to change.
The last two fights mentioned above are all but official, especially the Lemieux-O’Sullivan fight since the contract has reportedly been signed. Lemieux and O’Sullivan have been feuding on social media for several weeks, making a clash between the two possible, if not inevitable for September 15.
Lemieux vs. O’Sullivan is expected to be a middleweight fight, though the question will be how Lemieux will feel cutting weight to make the middleweight limit. Lemieux missed weight in his last fight and his manager said after the fight that Lemieux would be moving to super middleweight. This appeared even more apparent after Lemieux was placed in the top 15 in the WBC rankings at super middleweight.
O’Sullivan, who for months, had claimed to be Alvarez’s first opponent after his rematch against Golovkin, was looking for an opponent for September 15 and a fight against Lemieux does make the most logical sense. Lemieux is a quality middleweight that is not at a world class level in 2018, but can give anybody else in the division some trouble. Although the winner of that fight would not be anyone’s first choice to fight the winner of Alvarez vs. Golovkin, with millions of people tuning in to watch the fight, it wouldn’t be terrible matchmaking if Alvarez and O’Sullivan fight each other next regardless of the results, though it wouldn’t make sense if Alvarez wins and O’Sullivan loses and Golden Boy Promotions matches the two boxers next for a fight at the end of the year or in early 2019.
As for the Gonzalez-Fuentes fight, this one would likely be contested at 115 pounds, which would make it three different weight classes Fuentes will compete in just 20 months. Fuentes, who’s challenged for a light flyweight and flyweight world title and a former minimumweight champion, has lost three of his last four fights, though considering two of those losses came against Japanese stars Daigo Higa and Kosei Tanaka, no one put it against Fuentes for losing. Though a quality fighter, it’s obvious that Fuentes was chosen to be Gonzalez’s bounceback opponent because of his lack of in-ring success.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, is trying to build back his confidence after losing two consecutive fights to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, losing his WBC super flyweight title in the first fight, which took place on March 2017. Gonzalez was supposed to be fighting on May 5 on the now-failed pay-per-view card for the first attempt at a rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin.
Once the May 5 pay-per-view didn’t happen and got moved to an HBO television card headlined by Golovkin and Vanes Martirosyan, then Gonzalez was moved to fight on that card. Unfortunately, political turmoil in Gonzalez’s native country of Nicaragua prevented Gonzalez from getting a visa in time to compete.
Of course, with Gonzalez no fighting on May 5, the co-main event fight was given to undisputed women’s champion Cecilia Braekhus, who defended her titles against Kali Reis. Braekhus is currently also scheduled to fight on September 15 on the non-PPV card. Promoter Tom Loeffler did tell me in early May that Braekhus was supposed to fight on the May 5 PPV, and probably would have been put on the September 15 card had it not been for Munguia.
Munguia, the current WBO junior middleweight titleholder, is expected to defend his title in the co-main event fight, marking his third world title fight in just four months. Munguia won the title off of Sadam Ali back in May when Munguia knocked the former champion. Munguia then retained his title against mandatory challenger Liam Smith on July 21. Afterwards, one would normally think that Smith would probably fight at the end of the year at the earliest, considering that Munguia has fought four times in 2018 already.
As for Munguia’s opponent, it will most likely be against Brandon Cook. Cook went on Twitter to say that he has an announcement coming soon and that it is a major one. A fan asked him if that announcement was going to be a fight on the September 22 boxing card at Wembley Stadium, but Cook denied it saying it was an opportunity he cannot pass up.
Of course, anybody with common sense and more than 15 seconds to think about would come to the obvious conclusion that this announcement is going to be a shot at the WBO 154-pound title on the September 15 PPV. Cook is ranked No. 4 in the WBO rankings at that weight and Munguia is able to defend his title against anybody ranked in the top 15.
A fight against Cook means this would be Munguia’s fifth fight in just seven months. While this would be an appropriate schedule for a 21-year-old rising prospect, for a world champion this would be somewhat uncommon.
In this day and age, one would forget about how champions and great boxers from decades ago fought on a more frequent basis than the top boxers of this current era, whom would fight once or twice a year (maybe three times, but even that isn’t common). It’s obvious that Munguia is clearly being pushed by Golden Boy and HBO to be the next Mexican superstar boxer and he does have the tools to get there.
Munguia is an entertaining fighter, a knockout artist and has plenty of time to fight in big fights and to work on any mechanical and defensive flaws shown in the fight against Smith. In that fight, Smith clearly had the power advantage, but often left himself wide open, mainly when he’s throwing hooks to the side of his opponent’s head, leaving Munguia open to any counter jabs, which Smith was able to do at times. Munguia also needs to work on tightening his punches as any boxer that has power comparable to Munguia, like Jermell Charlo or Jarrett Hurd, would easily dispose of him inside of five rounds if Munguia is not careful. Smith did not have such power to stop Munguia and Munguia started to improve about halfway through the fight, string together a series of punches and stop Smith.
When Munguia fought Smith, the HBO team clearly was trying to build Munguia as this can’t-miss, unbelievable megastar in the making.
When Munguia knocked out Ali, everybody was excited to see him make noise at 154 pounds and then perhaps at 160 pounds, but when HBO talked about Munguia on the Smith fight, the praise was hyperbolic in mythical proportions, Tyson-esque in its nature, which started to turn fans watching the show off a little bit (I watched the fight live with the Spanish commentary team, which was far more tame in its depiction of Munguia’s abilities by comparison).
With Munguia coming out of the Smith fight with relatively little damage done to him, Golden Boy and HBO are looking to strike while the iron is hot and there is no bigger event to make a potential new Mexican superstar than the September 15 PPV, which falls on Mexican Independence Day weekend.
Cook isn’t the hardest puncher out there at 154 pounds and I don’t think he provides a bigger challenge than Smith, on paper. What’s going to be interesting is how Cook and Munguia handle the information on how to beat the young champion provided by Smith. I wouldn’t be surprised if the somewhat short training camp will be focused primarily on fixing his fundamental issues, which can be fixed. The issue of fighting this many fights in such a short span isn’t the problem, but it’s putting him out there before really fixing the issues in his boxing, which are glaring problems and ones any of the other champions can easily take advantage of.
Cook may not be the opponent to have the necessary tools to take out Munguia and he provides a sufficient enough of a challenge for Munguia to keep getting experience (another problem Munguia would have against the other older, far more experienced champions).
The best case scenario for Munguia would be to dominate Cook in say five or six rounds, showcase hs incredible power while showing better defense and tighter punching. Munguia would then go for any of the top challengers starting in 2019, hoping to build towards a unification fight with either Hurd or Charlo down the road.
Since Hurd and Charlo are currently with PBC and fighting on Showtime, that might prove to be difficult to pull off, although things could always change down the road. Another route they could pull off with Munguia is that HBO and Golden Boy continue building him up as the next big Mexican superstar and have him fight Alvarez down the road in a battle between the two most popular boxers from Mexico, akin to Alvarez’s 2017 clash with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. which ultimately proved to be a financial success despite the fight ending up as one of the most lopsided and underwhelming pay-per-view main events in the history of the sport.
Overall, this card is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best the sport has to offer in 2018. Given that the fight between Alvarez and Golovkin is shaping up to be another solid fight that will likely be on the outside looking in for “Fight of the Year.” As far as the undercard is considered, it’s likely that Munguia and Gonzalez will dominate their respective fights, but the Lemieux-O’Sullivan fights might end up being the most competitive of the bunch.
View the discussion thread.