Why is Canelo fighting Munguia? What about Benavidez, Charlo?

Super middleweight undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez, above, will fight Jaime Munguia on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Editor's note: This story was originally published on March 14 after the fight was officially announced.

The latest winner of the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes is Jaime Munguia, who beat out Jermall Charlo and Edgar Berlanga to land a May 4 fight in Las Vegas against boxing's top star. With that fight comes a chance at boxing championship glory, and of course, the biggest payday of Munguia's career.

Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) enters the undisputed super middleweight championship bout on the heels of a career-best performance, a ninth-round TKO victory over John Ryder in January. Munguia has improved greatly under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

And now he'll meet his countryman on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Canelo-Munguia is the first all-Mexican showdown for a title above 160 pounds.

How did Canelo (60-2-2, 39 KOs) select Munguia? What lies ahead for Canelo now that he's back in the fold with PBC for at least one fight? Let's dive into it:

Does Munguia have any realistic shot of beating Canelo?

Munguia is a worthy opponent and arguably earned his shot after the way he defeated Ryder. In comparison, Canelo wasn't able to finish Ryder last May and went the distance, though he did break the Englishman's nose and handed him a comprehensive 12-round beating.

And there's little doubt that Canelo softened up Ryder for Munguia. Nonetheless, Munguia capitalized. His defense was his biggest flaw as he built up his record, a flat-footed pressure fighter who relied on power shots. But against Ryder, Munguia was far more defensively responsible.

He held his guard up tight and used his jab much more effectively in that fight in January. Munguia boxed on his toes more, too. He's come a long way since his days as a 154-pound titleholder and appears to be steadily improving with each bout.

Naturally, it's one matter to box with discipline against a fighter like Ryder, a world-class boxer who retired afterward. It's quite another to do so with success against one of the sport's elite.

While Munguia's defense is much improved at age 27, it's still a weakness. He's often wide open for countershots, which should make him an easy target for Canelo's power punches.

Canelo's hand and foot speed will be disparate, too, as is experience. Canelo has shared the ring with all-time greats such as Floyd Mayweather, Gennadiy Golovkin (36 rounds) and Miguel Cotto. Sixty rounds with those boxers alone.

Munguia's toughest opponent, meanwhile, was Ryder.

Munguia could find success early in the fight; he has the adequate size and strength to compete with Canelo. But once Canelo finds his timing against the slow-footed Munguia, he should be able to land his vaunted power-punch combinations at will, when Munguia's chin will be truly tested for the first time.

At 33, Canelo remains boxing's top star and is rated the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter by ESPN. He opened up as a -650 favorite, per ESPN BET.

Wait, didn't Canelo say weeks ago that he was going to fight an American?

Yes, the plan was for Canelo to fight Jermall Charlo on May 4. Actually, the original vision when he signed a three-fight deal with PBC in June was a bout with Jermall Charlo in September followed by a bout in May with twin brother Jermell Charlo.

Jermall withdrew from the assignment due to personal matters before the fight was officially announced, with the understanding he would fight Canelo in May. That was Canelo's understanding, too, sources said.

Canelo went on to dominate Jermell, scoring a knockdown in a lopsided decision victory in September. Jermell never took any chances in the bout and appeared to be content to go the distance in a fight that was greatly disappointing through no fault of Canelo's.

Jermall remained one of the preapproved names for Canelo's final two fights, but it quickly became clear the matchup would be a tough sell for May. It's a big event any time Canelo fights, but there was little commercial demand for a matchup with another Charlo after Jermell's listless performance.

Any brotherly revenge angle was dismissed, too, when Jermell didn't show up to support Jermall in that bout. His stock fell further in November, when he failed to impress in a decision win against Jose Benavidez Jr. The bout was Charlo's first in 29 months.

Errol Spence Jr. was another preapproved name (by Canelo and PBC), but that was before he was TKO'd by Terence Crawford in a one-sided beatdown in July. Then, in January, Spence underwent cataract surgery, which left Jermall Charlo as the main target for Canelo.

When Canelo and PBC couldn't agree to terms for the Charlo matchup, Canelo was contractually allowed to explore other options.

He discussed a return to DAZN for bouts with Munguia and Berlanga this year, but when those talks stalled, the champion returned to the table with PBC.

And now, Canelo remains in the fold with Al Haymon and against a far more interested opponent on Cinco de Mayo weekend.

What about his next bout in September? Is David Benavidez a realistic option for Canelo?

The biggest fight for Canelo remains against Benavidez, a volume-punching fighter who seemingly possesses the biggest threat to Canelo.

"The reason why this fight is not happening is because Canelo doesn't want it to happen, plain and simple," Benavidez told ESPN last month. "I mean, the money is there, the anticipation from the fight fans is there. It would be an amazing event."

Canelo has shown little interest in the matchup, but that doesn't mean the fight won't happen. He will once again be a network and promotional free agent following the Munguia bout. Though he's back with PBC, it's a one-fight deal, sources said.

Benavidez fights under the PBC banner, so Canelo's continuing partnership is good news for "The Mexican Monster." Regardless of which network Canelo fights on, who he faces is always entirely up to him. He calls the shots.

In the past, he's shown a willingness to take on high-risk, low-reward fighters such as Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara. Now that he's at a different stage of his career, perhaps Canelo sees things differently. But there was also chatter years ago he would never face GGG. Canelo went on to fight him three times.

If it's not Benavidez in September, Crawford would represent another marquee option. ESPN's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter is looking to move up in weight for his summer return and the welterweight champion has publicly lobbied for a matchup with Canelo.

Canelo hasn't shown much interest in fighting Crawford, commenting that he's too small. But if Crawford can prove himself at a higher weight against a formidable fighter, that could change things.

More likely for September are some less attractive options Canelo is already eyeing: Berlanga, Charlo and maybe even Spence, assuming the fighter is healthy and ready.

But first thing's first: Canelo must turn back Munguia in the fourth defense of his undisputed crown.