Monroe Fights Hard, But the Big Drama Show Rolls On

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

The Gennady Golovkin Big Drama Show rolls on. Saturday night’s crowd of 12,372 at the Fabulous Forum was the latest to exult in a powerful performance from the Kazakh-born California resident; and Willie Monroe Jr. is the most recent pretender to be swatted aside by Triple G’s sledgehammer blows and torqued combinations. But despite taking a fearful battering early in the contest, Monroe refused to yield and even staged a determined rally before Golovkin’s power ultimately overcame his dogged determination.

What makes Monroe’s performance all the more impressive is that it manifested itself in a manner that was the polar opposite of what was expected. The self-styled mongoose likes to deploy the Cuban style that was taught to him by his grandfather, great-uncle and father, all of them boxers: using footwork and silky boxing style to hit without being hit. But, forced to throw out that plan, he instead stood and fought Golovkin in the trenches, falling short because he lacked firepower to go along with his undoubted heart.

Monroe began the contest the way he was expected to: circling his foe and pumping out a fast southpaw jab. But from the outset, Golovkin was stalking, cutting off the ring, showing no respect for Monroe’s punches, sending stiff jabs to the body to slow down his opponent and looking to land hard hooks and right hands to grind him to a halt. Already, by the end of that first round, Monroe appeared to be less mobile than he would like to be as Golovkin’s early punches took their toll; and in the second, it appeared as if the crowd would be in for an early night as the champion’s slow burning offense burst into furious flame.

Golovkin backed Monroe into a corner, walked through a right hand, feinted to throw a right of his own and then uncorked a sensational left hook that caused Monroe to pitch forward and crash on to the canvas. Somehow, the American beat the count, but the end seemed in sight as a Golovkin assault put him down again. The champion was battering his challenger against the ropes as the round closed, and the bell to end that round was met with palpable relief on Monroe’s face.

Monroe (19-2, 6 KOs), would have been forgiven had he chosen to fold up his tent and go home, but instead he fought back in the only way that was open to him. No longer able to use his weakened legs to move his winded torso around the ring, he stood in front of Golovkin, landing combinations to his pursuer’s body. In fact, he nearly won that third round, and he certainly won the fourth, stepping up his efforts by bouncing punches off the champion’s face, a declaration of resistance that was met by Golovkin waving him in for more.

Asked what was going through his mind as he staged his revival, Monroe said that he was “thinking of his grandfather,” but as impressive as his resolve was, there was always the sense that Golovkin was a big cat toying with his prey. In the fifth, Monroe’s momentum began to ebb, as Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) stepped forward with greater intent. An uppercut/hook/right hand sequence caused Monroe’s legs to buckle; somehow he was able to avoid touching the canvas, but another combination wobbled him again.

The end was now a formality, and it came in the sixth. Another hook hurt Monroe again, followed by another uppercut and another right. A sequence of four straight hooks found their target and once again Monroe’s legs bent as he forced himself through sheer will to remain upright. But he was almost finished, and another barrage put him down one more time. And although he rose once more, he did not look enamored of the idea of returning to combat and indeed, under questioning by referee Jack Reiss, admitted that, “I’m done.”

“I’m very happy with my performance,” Golovkin said afterward. “I thought it was another big drama show. Willie is a good fighter, but I know I had him hurt.”

“What the fans saw tonight was 70-80 percent of how good he really is,” stated Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez. “We’re not going to show him at 100 percent until we absolutely have to.”

As for which opponents might be the ones who would merit a display of Golovkin at his best, the fighter himself left no doubt who would like to face, and when.

“I want Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto,” he proclaimed. “Not in the future. Now.”