Challenger Willie Monroe Jr. is ready to beat WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’ backside in their fight this Saturday night for all the lip service he’s been giving him since their match was made over 2 months ago.
Saunders is in a must win fight for him to get the winner of the Gennady “GGG” Golovkin vs. Saul Canelo Alvarez fight, which also takes place this Saturday night.
The unbeaten Saunders (24-0, 12 KOs) will be defending his WBO title this Saturday night on September 16 in front of his own boxing fans at the Copper Box Arena in London, England. Monroe, 30, will be entering an area packed with Saunders’ British boxing fans, who will be screaming from start to finish to motivate their fighter to turn back the threat from the American talent.
Monroe Jr. (21-2, 6 KOs) wants to make an example out of the 28-year-old Saunders for what happens to a guy that starts squawking about him 24/7/.
“Billy Joe is a good fighter, but his talking is going to make his ass whipping worse,” vowed Monroe Jr.
Monroe Jr. will put himself in a great position to get the winner of the Canelo-GGG fight if he beats Saunders. However, it still doesn’t mean he’ll get to face the winner of that fight, as the two middleweight stars could face each other in a rematch before the winner of that fight turns his sights towards fighting for the WBO middleweight title. That means if Monroe Jr. beats Saunders to win his WBO 160 lb. title, he’ll still likely need to defend the belt once against a mandatory challenger before he can fight the winner of the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight.
Monroe Jr. is a good fighter, but he might have a hard time holding onto the WBO title if the World Boxing Organization orders him to defend against David Lemieux, who is currently rated #2 in the WBO’s rankings behind #1 Canelo. Monroe Jr. would have a tremendous amount of problems trying to hold onto the WBO title in a battle against the hard-hitting Lemieux. Of course, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves right now.
Monroe Jr. still must beat Saunders on Saturday, and he’s considered the undercard in that fight. Winning a decision in London over the home fighter Saunders is going to be a very, very hard thing for Monroe Jr. to do, as he’s not a big puncher, and he’s not likely to score a knockdown or 2 to make the job easier for the judges to score the fight in his favor. Minus a knockdown, Monroe Jr. will have his work cut out for him in this fight.
“That was 2015. This is 2017. I’m not here to dwell on the past,” said Monroe Jr. “I gave a good account of myself, but at that moment he may have been too big of a moment for me. The moment shook me up more than the fight. When you step into an arena and you have 15,000 fans and 14,990 are for the guy you’re fighting.”
Saunders has been taunting Monroe Jr. ever since the fight as signed about his 6th round knockout loss to Golovkin in 2015. Monroe Jr. quit in round 6 after he was knocked down by GGG for the second time in the fight. The referee asked Monroe Jr. if he wants to continue, and he said, ‘No.’ The fight was stopped at that point. Saunders thinks Monroe Jr. should have continued fighting and gone out on his shield in the traditional manner.
As hurt as Monroe Jr. was at that point, he wasn’t going to last more than a few more punches before he was knocked down and possibly hurt. If the shoe was on the other foot, Saunders might be singing a different tune about it. I don’t think he would have liked the idea of sticking it out to the bitter end against Golovkin with the way he was punching on the night. The way Saunders is, he would be giving Monroe Jr. grief even if he didn’t quit. Just the fact that he was knocked down twice and stopped by Golovkin would be enough ammo for Saunders to berate Monroe Jr. about the defeat.
Saunders must have something to get into the head of Monroe Jr. Taunting him about his loss to Golovkin is the best thing he can do. However, there isn’t much more time for Saunders to get his verbal licks in before the two of them square off on Saturday night. Saunders will need to prove to Monroe Jr. and the boxing fans that he’s the better fighter of the two. Saunders looked terrible in his only title defense of his WBO belt last December in beating challenger Artur Akavov by a controversial 12 round unanimous decision in Scotland. It was a close enough fight to where you could argue that Akavov deserved the victory. However, he was the visiting fighter, and getting victories on the road often aren’t easy for guys that are traveling to foreign territory.
Monroe Jr. has won his last 2 fights since the loss in beating John Thompson and Gabriel Rosado. Those were good wins for him. If Monroe Jr. can win this fight against Saunders, he’ll have more money for his career and his training. He won’t have to take as many fights on short notice like he’s been doing without training for an entire camp.
Saunders and Monroe Jr. are both southpaw fighters, so neither of them will have an edge in that respect. Saunders is used to fighting guys with an orthodox stance, and that helps him get an advantage over them. He won’t have that for this fight.
“That moment can shake you up. I’m human. I’ve always been humble,” said Monroe Jr. “I’ve had a 12 week camp for Billy Joe, but I only got six weeks’ notice for Golovkin and I also had Thompson and Rosado I had short camps.”
It’s good that Monroe Jr. has had 12 weeks to train for the Saunders fight, as he won’t have any excuses if things don’t turn out well for him on Saturday night, unless he gets robbed by the judges. You can’t rule that out unfortunately. Being the visiting fighter, anything is possible. Monroe Jr. hasn’t fought in 1 year, and that could play a factor in Saunders fight. It’s unclear why Monroe Jr. has been out of the ring for such a long time, as he’d been active with his career until this past year. It’s possible that none of the contenders in the middleweight division wanted any part of fighting Monroe Jr. after his impressive wins over Rosado and John Thompson. The way that he beat those guys, it showed that he’s a tough cookie to deal with unless you’ve got a lot of power like Golovkin, which very few fighters in the division have.
“I never had big backers and money guys in my corner to make things happen. So when a shot like that come up you take it,” said Monroe Jr. “Billy Joe has had a great promoter like Frank Warren in his corner. All the fights have been in his own back yard. He hasn’t had to go into a lion’s den with all these screaming fans against him.”
If Monroe Jr. beats Saunders on Saturday night, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get the fights he wants from now on. With the WBO title, Monroe Jr. will find himself a very much in demand fighter by the other top middleweights in the division. But like I said, he could find himself in the position where he’ll have to defend the WBO belt against David Lemieux before he could face the winner of the Golovkin-Canelo fight. Lemieux is well-connected with Golden Boy Promotions, and it’s very possible the WBO will order Monroe Jr. to defend against Lemieux. If Lemieux can win the WBO strap, it would setup a big money unification fight between him and the Canelo-Golovkin winner, which end up being Canelo. Canelo is also with Golden Boy, so it makes things easy for a Canelo vs. Lemieux fight to be put together.