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Fri May 15, 2015, 01:33 PM

Golovkin vs Monroe (5-16)

May 16; HBO

Gennady Golovkin vs. Willie Monroe, Jr.; middleweights.

This will again be an interesting weekend for the boxing community. On Friday night, there are cards featured on both ESPN and Tru-TV. But the most important fight will be on HBO on Saturday night. This middleweight fight is being held in The Forum, in Inglewood, CA.

While Golovkin is defending his “titles,” the actual champion in the division is Miguel Cotto. Still, most people consider Golovkin to be the best middleweight in the world. More, he is viewed as the most exciting fighter at any weight, who is active today. Golovkin, known as “GGG,” is so dominant, in fact, that very few people are giving Monroe a chance to win.

Let’s take a minute to review each fighter, and then consider some possible outcomes. At 33 years of age, GGG is five years older than Monroe. Both men are about 5’ 10” taller. Monroe’s 74” reach is four inches to his advantage. Both are comfortable at middleweight, although Monroe has only recently moved up in weight.

GGG’s record is 32-0, with 29 knockouts. Monroe is 19-1, with six knockouts. As those numbers indicate, it will be a puncher versus a boxer. Yet those numbers do not tell the full story.

Golovkin is exciting, because he is a predator in the ring. I am reminded of a big cat, stalking his prey. HBO’s Max Kellerman has correctly compared Golovkin’s style to that of the great heavyweight champion, Joe Louis. As his record indicates, GGG has extreme punching power. His left hook, when it lands to either the head or body, can be counted on to end any fight in an instant.

Also similar to Louis, GGG has significant boxing talents. He very rarely makes any mistakes in the ring. He punches with great accuracy. When he does miss a punch, he does not get off-balance. The nature of his offensive skills tends to overshadow the fact that he is solid on defense. I watched his September, 2012 fight against Grezgorz Proksa (who was 28-1 at the time); GGG’s style and reflexes allow him to avoid punches surprisingly well.

Willie Monroe, Jr., comes from a respected boxing family. In 1976, his great uncle (Also named Willie Monroe) decisioned Marvin Hagler, considered by many the greatest middleweight champion ever. This was one of only three loses in Hagler’s 67 fight career. In essence, Willie Monroe, Jr., is looking to duplicate this by beating another “unbeatable” middleweight.

Years ago, when Willie was still an amateur, he trained in some of the gyms that my son frequented. We knew then that he had the potential to become a top professional boxer. Later, at the Boxing Hall of Fame, Willie was gracious in spending time talking to my daughters, and posing for photographs, despite efforts to hurry him into the ring to put on a display of skills for the audience. I maintain contact with Willie, and readily admit that I cannot be fully objective in evaluating this fight. (It’s on my birthday, and I’ve told Willie’s wife that there’s only one “present” that I really want: for her husband to win!) While I respect and admire GGG, the Monroe family represent what is good about American life.

Willie has one loss on his record. I knew that he being matched against a tough, lmuch-larger journeyman way too early in his pro career. When I voiced my concern, one of Willie’s sparring partners told me that his then-promoter was “purposely fucking him.” After that loss, Willie had the opportunity to work with Roy Jones, Jr., which provided him with exactly what was needed to get his career on-track. And it’s been on-track ever since.

Last year, Willie won ESPN’s Boxcino Tournament, in impressive fashion. In the second round, he beat the undefeated tournament favorite; in the finals, he scored an upset over another undefeated fighter. Then, in January of this year, Willie won an impressive decision over tough Brian Vera. Willie holds two North American middleweight titles.

Monroe’s being a southpaw will not, in and of itself, hold any surprise for Golovkin; GGG’s amateur and pro experience has pitted him against almost every style imaginable. Nor is there any chance that Gennady will be less than 100% ready on Saturday, for he knows what most of the “experts” who expect an easy GGG victory do not: if there is any middleweight today who can frustrate Golovkin, it is Willie Monroe.

For Monroe has always been one of those few young men who spent untold hours, often alone in the gym, practicing until me mastered “perfect form.” If that sounds simple, believe this: it is not. For it is not only throwing every punch correctly -- it means bringing one’s hands back equally correctly; using one’s shoulder to protect one’s chin while jabbing; mastering the double- and triple-jab; throwing combinations in the correct sequence; making each punch in a combination harder than the last; and moving off to the side after punching, while never setting a pattern.

In 2014, my son and I were watching Willie on ESPN. My son noted that Monroe has grown into his “man strength,” that physical maturation that, for example, allowed Cassius Clay to fight Sonny Liston. And, in the next bout, we saw clear evidence that Monroe had added a new level of power to his delivery of punches. While he doesn’t possess the same type of explosive power as GGG, he can put a lot of hurt on anyone in front of him. And no one is going to simply walk through his punches.

Still, it will be difficult to fight Golovkin. Those few people who believe he has a chance speak of the need to fight like Cassius Clay fought Sonny Liston; or how Evander Holyfield fought Mike Tyson. But, as my son pointed out, Willie needs to look to those who gave Joe Louis his toughest fights, in order to identify a blueprint. Considering that even some extremely talented boxers were rendered unconscious by Louis, it actually limit’s the list to two fighters -- both champions. And they are Billy Conn, the great light heavyweight champion, and Jersey Joe Walcott, who became heavyweight champion after Louis retired.

Conn challenged Joe for the title in the summer of 1941, at the Polo Grounds in New York. At that time, no one believed Conn had any meaningful chance against Louis: not only was Joe close to 30 pounds bigger, but he was on a historic streak of devastating knockouts that has never been equaled. But Billy Conn surprised everyone -- most of all Louis.

Billy used his superior footwork to both avoid Louis’s punches, and kept the champion off-balance. Joe wasn’t used to putting in many rounds, as he was the most efficient puncher in ring history. Yet, because he could not land his jab -- a lethal weapon in itself -- he could not land anything else. Conn steadily built up a lead, winning rounds by landing blistering combinations, and disappearing. After 12 rounds, Conn believed he was assured of winning the decision. But, because Joe’s face was getting puffy, his vision blurred, and Conn’s punches were setting him back on his heels, Conn decided to go for a knockout.

After coming to, and learning that he had been counted out, Billy Conn delivered the classic line: “Ah, being Irish is a curse.”

After the war, Louis would defend the title against an aging veteran, Jersey Joe Walcott. This bout took place at Madison Square Garden. When asked by a reporter if he felt Louis was “getting old,” Walcott replied that he found it frustrating to wait for Louis to get old, considering he was several years older than Joe.

For much of his career, Walcott had fought “part time,” because as a black boxer, he couldn’t secure big fights. Hence, he worked for my grandfather’s construction company. But he had watched the Conn fight closely, and was confident that he could upset Louis. Indeed, he not only was able to avoid any meaningful blows over the 15 rounds, but he actually decked Louis twice (he caught Joe off-balance, and was able to hurt him several times during the bout).

After the fight ended, Joe Louis knew he had lost. He actually left the ring, and went back to his dressing room. However, the promoter’s wishes carried the day, and only one of the three judges gave the fight to Walcott.

Constant movement -- but not “running” -- along with frequent changes in direction; fast, crisp combinations; anticipating, this avoiding the jab; and never setting patterns ….this is what Monroe needs to do. He doesn’t need to try to win every round, just one more than GGG. Tie up if he gets hit hard, and keep his back off the ropes. That’s difficult to do against a predator like Golovkin. For most fighters, it isn’t even a possibility. In fact, I think that other than Floyd Mayweather, that Willie Monroe is the only active boxer who has the ring IQ to give GGG a good fight.

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Reply Golovkin vs Monroe (5-16) (Original post)
H2O Man May 2015 OP
twogunsid May 2015 #1

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2015, 09:44 PM

1. HBD, H2O Man....

And thank you for your fight analysis. I real enjoy your posts and appreciate all the knowledge you pass on to a casual fan like myself. Enjoy the fight!

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