So Gennady Golovkin defends his middleweight belts against Willie Monroe Jnr on May 16, at the Forum in Inglewood, California. I must admit that when I heard this news I was surprised – had the story somehow got Monroe confused with another fighter, one more famous? Because on the face of, this seems a pretty poor match for the Kazakh terror.
But, no, it’s definitely Monroe Jr against Golovkin, for the WBA Super, IBO and interim WBC belts at 160lbs. The bare facts spell mismatch. Golovkin has won all his 32 fights, 29 inside the distance, and last time out on February 21 became the first to stop Martin Murray, a big middleweight who had lost controversially to Sergio Martinez in Argentina and drawn controversially with Felix Sturm in Germany.
Monroe Jr has 19 wins against a loss to Darnell Boone, a decent journeyman – and only six of Willie’s victories have come inside the distance. And yet he has been approved by HBO, the cable network that will televise the May 16 fight His main calling card is that last year he won the “Boxcino” tournament on ESPN.
His victims in that event were, in order from quarter-final to final: Donatas Bondorovas, Vitaliy Kopyalenko and Brandon Adams. Hardly household names in their own households, as the old joke goes.
So why is Golovkin taking a fight that will add little to his reputation (assuming of course that he wins easily, which he should)? Well, he’s keeping busy – and as that is nowhere near as common as it should be in boxing today, it’s worth noting.
Gennady picked up his first ‘world’ title (interim WBA) in August 2010, one of two fights he had that year. He then had two in 2011, two in 2012, four in 2013 and three in 2014.
Since beating Lajuan Simon in December 2011, Golovkin has fought 10 times. Yes, one can argue that not all of the Kazakh’s opponents have been top class, but at least he’s been busy, even if such a level of activity would have seemed sedate in the 1950s (never mind the 1920s).
“GGG” is surely as frustrated as boxing fans that he can’t get the top names to share a ring with him. And for all the Miguel Cotto is the lineal champion at 160, his next outing may be against a 40-something junior-middleweight in Cornelius Bundrage, so Cotto is in no position to criticise others for weak opposition.
No, Willie Monroe Jr doesn’t thrill me as an opponent for “GGG”. Yes, I want to see him fight Cotto or Canelo, or even Ward at 168. But given his steady activity, I think Golovkin is entitled to a free pass for this one.