THERE comes a time in every boy’s life when an older male – typically, a father, uncle, or brother – puts the bottom of a palm against the top of their forehead and says to them, “Come on, hit me. Give me your best shot.”

Being the bigger man, with the longer arms, this command will traditionally be issued with the boy kept very much at arm’s length and it’s then within this distance they do battle; the older man finding comfort from knowing he has complete control, while the boy, full of frustration and youthful ignorance, swings away, feeling he can somehow close the gap despite both the pressure on his head and his smaller arms.

Tonight (May 4) in Las Vegas, Jaime Munguia was likely reminded of this feeling when he tried in vain to make a dent in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez en route to a 12-round decision defeat (scores of 117-110, 116-111, and 115-112). Never deterred, despite the lack of impact and success, it became obvious early on that Munguia, 43-1 (27), would have been one of those children who would have continued whaling on their dad, uncle, or brother rather than giving up the second they realised the odds were stacked against them.

Make no mistake, they were stacked against him tonight, too. In even just being picked, Munguia had been pinpointed as a fighter raw enough to fall for traps, and all the old tricks, and a fighter against whom Canelo, now 33, could have a bit of fun. He was never picked to either enhance Canelo’s legacy or threaten it, but simply because he ticked boxes both in terms of nationality – being a fellow Mexican – and also style, for there are few fighters who possess a style as easily understood as Jaime Munguia.

That’s not to say he offered nothing, mind you. In fact, credit to Munguia, he managed to do a lot with this style against Alvarez and will, because of his effort, no doubt find himself in line for some other big opportunities in the future. Limited or not, he started tonight’s fight well, pushing Canelo backwards, and he stayed true to his belief that work-rate and aggression would get the job done even when the flow of the action indicated this belief was perhaps wide of the mark.

Best of all, he gave it a go and showed zero respect for his countryman. That is not something we can say about all Alvarez opponents, by the way, and yet Munguia, someone who has presumably admired and followed Canelo for much of his career, fought tonight as though the only thing that mattered was hurting and beating his more decorated and revered opponent.

His inability to do so had nothing to do with a lack of effort, that’s for sure. Instead, when it comes down to it, Munguia fell short against Alvarez purely because on the path of evolution he is still Alvarez from 10 years ago; meaning raw, overexuberant, and full of holes. He can bring plenty to a fight, and can bulldoze his way through inferior fighters unable to tame him or extinguish his power, but against the elite, and the likes of Alvarez, a fighter requires more than just huff and puff, alas. This Alvarez knows himself, of course, having encountered a similar scenario/lesson back in 2013, when Floyd Mayweather held him at arm’s length – palm against forehead – and said to him, “Come on, hit me. Give me your best shot.”

Alvarez lands a left (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Suffice it to say, Alvarez learned from that experience and soon made huge improvements. With humility knocked into him by defeat, he became immediately wiser, more composed, and able to separate hype from reality. He also learned the tricks of the trade – when to punch, when not to punch – and learned that there is more to boxing than just coming forward and throwing punches as hard as you can.

This was in evidence tonight, too, when he observed Munguia fall into all the same traps and patiently waited to teach him a lesson. In round four, for example, you could see Alvarez mentally checking off every mistake Munguia was making and then wanting to show him that even Munguia’s success was something Alvarez was gifting to him. The odd right hand would get through, sure, but only because Alvarez had plans for his own, which became abundantly clear when, in round four, Alvarez nailed Munguia with a beautiful right uppercut in an exchange, dropping Munguia for the first time in his professional career. Now, if he wasn’t aware before, there was no doubt: Munguia wasn’t having success, he was being measured; controlled; prepared.

It’s one of the perks of being the best, this ability to control, and it starts early. Here, for instance, Canelo’s ability to control started as far back as the day he decided to fight Jaime Munguia instead of, say, David Benavidez, another Mexican with whom he had been linked. Even just making this choice, you see, Canelo, 61-2-2 (39), was demonstrating his power. He was signalling, too, the role Munguia would be playing in the fight; that of the chosen one; that of second fiddle.

From there, of course, Canelo then used every inch of his power and reputation to keep Munguia under control, only for Munguia to ultimately try to defy him, stick to his game plan, and maintain a belief that he was the one to bring Canelo back down to earth. As a result of this disobedience, however, and because Munguia refused to fall in line in the manner of previous opponents, Canelo then had to go back to basics. He had to use all his physical advantages and all his wisdom and experience and he had to put the palm of his hand on the forehead of his opponent and say, “Come on, hit me. Give me your best shot.”

And to his surprise, Munguia never stopped trying.