ABOUT WILLIE MONROE JR
By Alejandro Berrios
News broke just days ago that the next opponent for WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin will be Boxcino tournament winner, and young prospect, Willie Monroe Jr. Monroe, a slick southpaw, has only one loss on his resume; a spilt-decision that came at the hands of the rugged and under-appreciated veteran Darnell Boone.
Boone is one of the most intriguing and interesting boxers of recent memory. His record of 20-21-4 is similar to Orlando Salido’s record of 42-12-2 in that the large number of losses both have are not indicative of their skill. While Salido is certainly a better fighter than Boone, both are fully capable of pulling off huge upsets if their opposition makes a single mistake.
Defeating Monroe is not the first time Boone has won an upset as many remember that Boone shockingly knocked out Adonis Stevenson to hand Stevenson his first loss. When one considers that only nine of Boone’s 20 wins have come by knockout it makes his record even more misleading. Stevenson along with Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev have all been introduced to the canvas by the courtesy of Darnell Boone; the man can truly punch.
Boone also has learned a few tricks of the sport as he’s continued to fight anyone and everyone consistently. While a split-decision win over a young, slick prospect like Monroe might not impress many, a split-decision loss to Sergey Kovalev, particularly in light of Kovalev’s dominance over Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, should. All of that is to say that a young prospect losing a close fight to Darnell Boone should not be as big of a red flag as Boone’s record would suggest; however, Monroe’s most recent victory against Brian Vera is an indication to me that he will not provide Golovkin with too much trouble.
HIS FIGHT WITH BRIAN VERA
This may seem odd considering that not only did Monroe win the fight, but he did so clearly and fairly easily, earning the victory unanimously. Still, there were a few moments in that fight that should cause major concern for Monroe and his supporters. Monroe’s biggest problem against Vera is that multiple times throughout the fight he allowed Vera to throw big shots when his back was on the ropes.
To Monroe’s credit, this happened significantly less in the second half of the fight, but it happened too frequently in the beginning of the fight to create confidence that Monroe’s above-average ring movement will prevent Golovkin from cutting the ring off on him. Vera not only does not move as well as Golovkin, nor has Golovkin’s footwork and foot-positioning, but definitely does not cut the ring off as well as Golovkin. Even more troubling was the fact that Vera did not cut off the ring on Monroe when he had Monroe against the ropes; he followed Monroe around until Monroe stopped on the ropes, and then tried to unload power punches.
Golovkin is one of the sport’s best at cutting off the ring, and if Monroe can allow a past-his-prime, sluggish Brian Vera to work him on the ropes than he is in big trouble when Golovkin forces him to stay on the ropes while trying to hold off a barrage of lethal blows.
In addition to Monroe finding his back on the ropes for too long, he was hit cleanly by some of Vera’s power punches in these moments. Vera’s punches have not looked crisp since his fights with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which likely is due to the fact that those fights occurred at super-middle weight, and his two subsequent fights occurred at middleweight.
The weight-loss along with the many slug fests he has endured have likely taken their toll and contributed to his sluggish punches and terrible balance throughout the fight. Still, he landed some clean shots on Monroe, who mostly boxed, but still elected to trade punches with Vera from time to time. Golovkin has shown a very solid chin thus far in his career, and does not care to take a punch to land a devastating bomb like Daniel Geale experienced. Vera catching Monroe when he was able to throw suggests Golovkin not only will be able to do the same, but also do a much better job of it.
COMING UP AGAINST A MACHINE
There are little reservations about Golovkin’s chin, but Monroe’s is still open to question, and considering that his power is respectable, but not great, it does not seem that Monroe will have much success keeping Golovkin off of him.
Ultimately, Monroe Jr. does not present anything to Golovkin that he has not seen before. Those few Golovkin critics who think a slick mover like Monroe will give him problems will disagree with this article, but Golovkin will not be befuddled by movement like Ruslan Provodnikov was against Chris Algieri. Golovkin will cut the ring off on Monroe so that his movement is no longer a factor, he will then pepper Monroe, who is clearly not Floyd Mayweather Jr. defensively, with power punches.
Monroe will unlikely be able to hurt Golovkin and will try to trade with the champion when he is cornered, as opposed to immediately trying to escape. By doing so he will get himself hurt, badly. Maybe there is a slick boxer in the middleweight/super middleweight divisions who can out-maneuver and evade Golovkin with much success, but most likely, that fighter’s name is not Willie Monroe Jr.
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