Robert Diaz considers the timing “perfect” for Jaime Munguia to be challenging Saul Alvarez.

The Mexican rivals, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, on Saturday contest “Canelo” Alvarez’s undisputed super-middleweight title on the occasion of Cinco de Mayo weekend.

Diaz left Golden Boy Promotions after 15 years at the start of 2023, and therefore remained an influential figure while they guided the 33-year-old Alvarez to the status of the world’s leading fighter, and nurtured Munguia into perhaps Mexico’s most exciting young talent.

Alvarez remains the significant favourite against the undefeated, aggressive fighter six years his junior, but after witnessing Munguia’s evolution under first Erik Morales and more recently Freddie Roach, Diaz believes that Munguia has entered his prime and is therefore capable of giving Alvarez a significant test. 

“It’s perfect timing,” the matchmaker said. “Munguia is at his best; had it been a year ago, two years ago, we wouldn’t be talking about it like we are today. The timing is perfect. Munguia’s filled into the weight class perfectly; he looks big; he looks strong; he believes in himself; the experience is there of handling big fights; he’s headlined a few already himself. 

“The fan base has grown – he has a great trainer [Freddie Roach] behind him. I’m sure they’re going to have a great strategy, not only as a Mexican versus a Mexican – which always brings out the pride in each side. ‘I can lose to anybody in the world but I’m not going to lose to a countryman’ – that’s what always provides this with fireworks and guarantees a spectacular performance and a spectacular fight. 

“Munguia’s matching was very clever and very well done – and again, it was an amazing job. Hats off to Fernando Beltran [Munguia’s co-promoter, of Zanfer Promotions]. In my part it was a little frustrating at times. I did the fight with Tureano Johnson [in 2020] personally, and Tureano hurt him in the first round and looked like he was going to knock him out. Munguia showed a lot of heart; recovered, and then stopped Tureano later, on a bad cut. It’s timing and position. There’s times you would read a lot of the comments from the media; from the fans. 

‘When is Munguia gonna fight somebody? When is he going to fight somebody?’ He wasn’t ready. 

“Fernando knew it and Munguia had to grow more. He was very young with a lot of fights. That’s when we confuse – ‘Thirty-five fights; he should already be…’ – but he was 23, 24 years old; he was still a baby. Today, at his age, you can see his body – it’s now a man’s body. His confidence his there. His ability – in the fight with [Sergiy] Derevyanchenko you saw toe-to-toe. Yet, however, a couple of fights ago you saw more boxing. Erik Morales taught him some things – you saw more head movement; you saw more distance; you saw more jabs; you saw some footwork and speed. 

“Munguia’s always been a fighter you don’t have to teach aggressiveness. The guy comes; he’s aggressive; he’s strong; he comes forward. What you needed to teach is a little bit of head movement. Avoid getting hit if you don’t have to, and using his height and reach. Even though Freddie is that type of trainer – aggressive; go toe-to-toe type – I think he’s adapted that and he’s picked it up very well. You can see Munguia in camp – in just one camp prior – enjoying the camp, and moving out here and doing sparring in the US. Obviously that’s going to help as well – with sparring partners.”

Diaz, whose wife Carla is Alvarez’s personal assistant, also revisited the 27-year-old Munguia unexpectedly establishing himself as a fighter of significant promise in 2018.

“He came into the scene with Golden Boy somewhat accidentally,” he said. “Sadam Ali had just beaten Miguel Cotto; won the world title. We were looking for an opponent for him to fight; a couple of Golden Boy fighters had been mentioned; he turned them down, and then Munguia’s name came up and he took it. Perfect timing for Munguia – he becomes a world champion – obviously there was a size difference. At that moment, yes, he was a world champion. [But] I don’t remember too much excitement on my part. More thinking the bigger man won. Sadam was a 147 at most.

“But little by little you started getting to know the fighters; started to see him. Hats off to Fernando Beltran; timing is key in a fighter’s career. He had the patience. He had the recipe. He knew, and he’s guided it, and look where it’s got him. I saw him at the press conference in LA. I said, ‘Fernando, congratulations – you done a great job to get him where you wanna get every fighter’. It’s not just fighting for the world title – it’s fighting these level of fights; these type of fights.”