“Why not Willie Monroe?” Who else is trying to fight GGG?

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Willie Monroe Jr.

Willie Monroe Jr.Undefeated middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin will make his fourth defense in a year’s span when he faces the dexterous Willie Monroe Jr. on May 16 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Golovkin (32-0, 29 knockouts) has stopped his past 19 opponents, with his most recent victim being Martin Murray in February, although Murray lasted the longest of any opponent the Kazakh has faced.
Willie Monroe Jr. (19-1, 6 knockouts) of Rochester, New York, is on a nine-fight win streak after coming out on the raw end of a split decision loss to Darnell Boone in 2011.

Over his last few fights, Monroe has really honed his talent. A year ago in the ESPN Boxcino middleweight tournament, Monroe took apart an undefeated Brandon Adams, nearly shutting him out in the process, and continued to make a name for himself. In his proceeding bout, he dominated an experienced fringe contender in Brian Vera (23-9, 14 knockouts).

Monroe, who is ranked #2 by the WBA, will face his toughest challenge yet. On March 26, Monroe was interviewed live on Tha Boxing Voice Radio. Unlike many fighters in the middleweight division, Monroe has the courage to step into the ring with a guy that has knocked out 91% of the opponents he has faced. When asked why he is worthy of such an opportunity, the WBO NABO middleweight champion stood firm.

“Why not Willie Monroe?” Monroe fired back. “Who else is trying to fight Triple G (Golovkin) right now?

Monroe is referring to the fact that many fighters duck Golovkin, most notably WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto. Golovkin has been calling out Cotto since as early as his stoppage victory over Daniel Geale in July 2014 but has been ignored each time. On February 27, the WBC ordered Cotto to fight Golovkin, but the demand has yet to be met by the four-division world champion.

Golovkin is a unique fighter. Yes, money is nice, but it doesn’t matter as much to Golovkin as it does to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. Golovkin is willing to face anyone, even if the money isn’t marquee. Mayweather is the opposite, preferring mega paydays and marketable opposition. If Golovkin had the business approach of Mayweather, the fight simply wouldn’t happen. And for that, Monroe is appreciative.

“I’m blessed to be in this position,” he added.

Monroe presents a unique set of challenges for Golovkin and vice versa. Monroe is a slick southpaw, very versatile, and can control a fight from the outside, which is what Monroe has to do. He simply doesn’t have the power to get in a brawl; he would get eaten alive, so he has to fight smart. If Golovkin cuts off the ring, it’s going to be a tall task for Monroe. The game plan though? It’s a secret, for now.

“I won’t be giving away a game plan, I’m just going to go in and be the full 100 percent Willie Monroe; that’s all I can be.”

Monroe undoubtedly hit the spotlight due to his appearance in the ESPN Boxcino Middleweight tournament. The concept of the tournament was to put the spotlight on fighters that are trying to increase their marketability, allowing fans to connect and grow with each fighter. With each great performance, the better chance that fighter has at becoming a legend in the sport. For Monroe, it has paid him great dividends.

“Tournaments of that nature, whether it be Boxcino or another tournament, I think it’s something that fighters should definitely jump into because it gives you a feel of how the old school fighters used to do it,” said Monroe. “It keeps you busy, and it keeps your name out there, and it keeps you relevant in the boxing world.”

Tha Boxing Voice’s Victor Salazar predicted months ago that Willie Monroe Jr. would get the fight vs. Golovkin out of the three possible candidates because he felt that Monroe presented a challenge that ‘The God of War’ has yet to face, a man that has solid boxing ability and good movement. While Salazar was correct, Monroe added that Golovkin’s team did not see him as a first pick, but as a last resort.

“I was last to be chosen,” Monroe admitted. “I think they (Team Golovkin) picked Tureano Johnson first. HBO told him, ‘We don’t like that because you knocked out the guy that knocked him out.’ Then, they moved on to Heiland (Jorge Sebastian Heiland), and nobody was interested, so that left me.”

Tureano Johnson was stopped by Curtis Stevens in April 2014, but it was a travesty. Johnson had dominated most of the fight but was caught by a left hook with 59 seconds remaining in the 10th round, and Stevens wailed away to try and finish him. Even though Stevens only landed about five punches in the following exchange, the fight was stopped by referee Gary Rosato approximately six seconds after the left hook connected. Johnson, to me, is still a viable opponent for a future Golovkin fight.

As for Heiland, he knocked out an over-trained Matthew Macklin this past November for the WBC International middleweight title, yet somehow the fight was close leading up to the colossal body blow that ended Macklin’s evening.

Monroe has said in the past that he would use the Cuban Style to augment Golovkin’s power. When asked to clarify what type of Cuban Style that was compared to an Erislandy Lara or a Guillermo Rigondeaux, he took a line out of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. playbook.

“Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see,” Monroe added. “The bottom line of Cuban boxing is hitting and not getting hit.”
Monroe added that the Cuban Style can’t be attached to just one fighter, going on to say that the Cuban Style also teaches fighters how to stay in the pocket.

“Cubans aren’t just taught to move, but also to have head movement. When you watch Rigondeaux fight, sometimes he doesn’t move. What the Cuban style emphasizes on is true boxing, the true essence of what boxing is about.”

Tony Morgan, Monroe’s trainer, has been confident enough to say that his fighter will beat Gennady Golovkin and go on to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. at 154 because with a victory, he will have the hype to merit a Mayweather fight. Monroe attempted to distance himself from his trainer and remain humble.

“Whatever happens, happens in the boxing world,” he added. “I don’t call out anybody. It’s just not my style. My job is to win fights.”

Golovkin has faced only one southpaw in his career to date, Grzegorz Proksa in September 2012, which Golovkin won by TKO inside the fifth. Monroe doesn’t see it playing as big a factor, but still believes he has the tools to dethrone Golovkin.

“You never can tell. You have fighters that actually have more success against southpaws, like Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather, and Bernard Hopkins,” said Monroe. “It’s going to take a lot more than a southpaw style to beat Triple G. What it takes; I believe I have.”

The one blemish on Willie Monroe’s record is the split decision loss to Darnell Boone in 2011, who was 17-17-3 coming into their fight. Monroe thought the fight was close, but he had done enough to achieve victory.
“I knew it was close, but I thought I had pulled it out,” said Monroe.
Monroe blamed politics for the loss.

“There were certain individuals that didn’t favor me too much, They thought I wasn’t a real fighter. They didn’t like the fact that I was a singer also. It was their job to handle what they had to handle.”

By openly admitting it was a close fight, Monroe also revealed that there was something he could have done better in the ring that evening.
Monroe has been in over 142 amateur fights and nearly made the 2008 Summer Olympic team, but nothing has stopped him from trying to reach his lifetime goal of winning a world championship, even if it means less money.

“I’m not getting paid enough to come in a pound and a half over to give up $100,000; I’ll tell you that much,” Monroe candidly stated. “With that being said, Rubio got paid more than what I’m getting paid. I’m fighting this guy because I want to fight him.”

The words spoken by Monroe are a testament to his character and how much heart this man has. Most Golovkin opponents are beaten before they even step into the ring. It is possible that Monroe will snap Golovkin’s consecutive knockout streak, I can see it. Even if the kid has to taste the canvas a couple of times in the fight, I think he has what it takes to go the distance with Golovkin and give the champ a boxing lesson that he’s never experienced professionally.