In a night of enjoyable mismatches on HBO, offensive maestros Gennady Golovkin and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez impressed against their respective foes at the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles. While neither man was ever under threat, they both did enough to impress and leave the public hungry for more.
Willie Monroe (19-2, 6 KO) was never really in the middleweight main event. He managed to stay away from Golovkin for most of round 1, but he was still taking hard punches from “GGG”, whose bad intentions were obvious from the outset.
Monroe went to the canvas twice in the 2nd – first from a terrifying left hook in the corner and then from a series of shots along the ropes – and though he managed to make it out of the round, he looked shell-shocked on the stool. To his credit, he came out for the 3rd and elected to stand in the middle of the ring and trade punches with Golovkin (33-0, 30 KO). Monroe managed to catch Kazakh with a few left hands, but just didn’t have the power to bother him.
It was more of the same in the 4th, with Monroe standing in and perhaps smothering some of Golovkin’s work. “GGG” opened the 5th with a nasty left hook that buckled Monroe’s knees but couldn’t follow it up with much else. Indeed, Monroe seemed to earn the titleholder’s respect with a series of combinations.
Respect turned to annoyance in the 6th however. When Golovkin decided he wanted to end it, he could. A series of uppercuts sent Monroe to the ropes, where he waved Golovkin in. Unfortunately for him he got exactly what he wanted, and was sent to the canvas under a fusillade of rips and right hands.
Monroe was up at the count of 10, but when pressed by referee Jack Reiss he admitted, “I’m done.” Golovkin gave a typically adorable post-fight interview in which he said he let Monroe back into the fight in order to put on a “big drama show,” said “muchas gracias” to his Mexican fans and insisted he’s ready for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez now.
On the undercard, Roman Gonzalez also impressed in his US premium cable debut. In the black and red trunks of Nicaragua’s Sandanista National Liberation Front, Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KO) burst out of the gate and tattooed Sosa with jabs, straight rights and left hooks.
It was the perfect coming out party for the little master. Sosa (51-9, 30 KO) was in shock from the outset and was merely trying to survive. Chocolatito dropped the boom in round 2, though, knocking his Mexican foe to the canvas first with a concussive 1-2 and then a lead right-left hook combination.
It was all a formality from then on, and Gonzalez unloaded with a full broadside in the closing seconds of the round, forcing referee Raul Caiz, Jr. to step in and stop the fight. It was the right decision, Sosa sagged to the canvas after eating two dozen unanswered shots.
Asked whether he would against face Juan Francisco Estrada again, Gonzalez said it was “all up to his promoters.” As the only fighter who’s given him trouble thus far, it’s the natural next step for Chocolatito.
Photo: Gennady Golovkin (L) lands a punch at Willie Monroe, Jr. (Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)