Jaime Munguia will take on a former title challenger of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez as he begins his campaign to come for the divisional king.

The unbeaten former WBO junior middleweight titlist and current super middleweight contender is set to face England’s John Ryder. The crossroads bout is due to headline a DAZN show on January 27 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona,.

The fight will serve as a table setter for Munguia (42-0, 33KOs), who has been linked to a potential showdown versus fellow unbeaten super middleweight Edgar Berlanga (21-0, 16KOs). Higher on the list of priorities for the Tijuana native, however, is the hope to have his WBO mandatory challenger status enforced to face Alvarez in an all-Mexico clash for the undisputed championship.

Golden Boy was cautioned by the WBO that the fight won’t be ordered until the end of 2024 at the earlier and advised the company to keep Munguia active during that time. The message was received as next up for the 27-year-old is a contender who has fought at the top level.

Like Munguia, Ryder fought just once in 2023 and wound up winless on the year. It came in a valiant bid versus Alvarez, against whom Ryder was soundly outpointed over twelve rounds in their fully unification and WBO title consolidation bout on May 5 in Zapopan, just outside Alvarez’s hometown Guadalajara, Mexico.

The mandatory title fight was ordered after Ryder claimed an interim version of the title in a fourth-round injury stoppage of unbeaten countryman Zach Parker last November 26 at The O2 in London.

Munguia’s lone fight of this past year was his most significant win outside of his junior middleweight title reign. A dramatic 12th round knockdown provided the margin of victory in a competitive twelve-round, unanimous decision over former three-time title challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (14-5, 10KOs). Munguia won by scores of 114-113, 114-113 and 115-112 in their instant classic this past June 10 at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.

The fight came seven months after Munguia’s third and final fight of his 2022 campaign, though all of which came versus underwhelming opposition. A concentrated effort has been made to upgrade his competition level, though talks with Berlanga did not advance far enough to where the fight could made in the fourth quarter of this year.

Boxing Scene learned that Munguia and Berlanga were both advised to either make the fight versus each other or be prepared to sit. Common ground was found as both have now landed fights versus serviceable opposition. As previously reported by Boxing Scene’s Keith Idec, Berlanga will next face unbeaten WBA-number three ranked contender Padraig McCrory (18-0, 9KOs) next February. The timeline suggests a head-on collision is imminent, though such a fight is still not guaranteed.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox