Fighters Need to Fight

Fighters need to fight. Television networks need to fill time slots. And this mutually reinforcing relationship is why Gennady Golovkin, boxing’s middleweight garroter, will step into the ring with little known Boxcino graduate Willie Monroe at the Forum in Los Angeles tonight. If there’s such a thing as a mechanical date, this is it.

Monroe (19-1), who has faced only ESPN-level competition, never HBO, is taking advantage of an opportunity rarely afforded to someone with his limited credentials. This is not a denigration. Monroe should take his chances, even if the consequence — in this case, unconsciousness — is fairly predictable.

Monroe, right, has decent boxing skills, but lacks pop.

In the lead up to tonight’s fight, a ‘clash of styles’ has been invoked as justification for why he might trouble ‘GGG’. Monroe is a southpaw with a snappy jab who fights defensively, moving backwards before he comes forward. So the question is, can he outbox Golovkin over twelve rounds? Is Monroe’s assembly of defensive prowess, strong footwork, and shooting left hand enough to derail a train that sometimes veers around the mountain, but is often content just to ram right through it?

No. It’s not. While Monroe has some boxing ability he cannot punch, having only stopped six people as a professional. Meanwhile, Golovkin (32-0) is comfortable taking a shot to come forward, as he did repeatedly in his last victory over Martin Murray. Murray, like Monroe, could box, but once Golovkin felt his power, or lack of it, he remained in front of him for the entire fight, walking down the courageous Englishman, throwing a variety of punches to circumvent any of the defensive shells Murray retreated into.

Gennady Golovkin, Marco Antonio Rubio
Golovkin’s last visit to California: a two round beatdown of Marco Antonio Rubio

There is nothing to suggest the same thing won’t happen tonight, even if, by virtue of Monroe’s live feet and southpaw stance, it might take a bit longer for ‘GGG’ to find him. Or maybe it won’t take long at all.

If nothing else, fighting in LA gives Golovkin another chance to court the west coast fans his Santa Monica-based promoter, Tom Loeffler, is eager to impress. His last stateside fight, held in the fall at the StubHub Center against Marco Antonio Rubio, was dubbed ‘Mexican Style’ to emphasize its action. The marketing tagline for tonight’s bout is less steeped in violent cultural associations because there aren’t any to draw upon. There are no appeals to history here nor any obvious archetypes to exploit; this fight is simply about exposure and money, and more cursory than most.

Like most GGG opponents, the skilled and tough Murray still ended up on the mat.

The potential for drama is minimal. There isn’t even the illusion of competitiveness at play. On the most recent edition of The Fight Game, Jim Lampley, who will be calling the fight, asked Max Kellerman, who will be commenting on the fight, whether Monroe has a shot. He received a succinct “Nope”, and this from a team that, several rounds into Manny Pacquiao’s disastrously easy fight with Chris Algieri, kept stressing the threat Algieri posed.

Golovkin’s’ team should be credited for keeping him in the ring, and at this point finding challenging opponents cannot be easy. This is not a challenging opponent, but who else is there? The ideal candidate, whose scalp ‘GGG’ must collect to finally climb outside of boxing’s crib, is Canelo Alvarez, who dismantled Jame Kirkland last weekend. Unfortunately, it makes little sense for Canelo to take on the tremendous risk Golovkin represents when there are even more lucrative fights against less daunting opposition available, like Miguel Cotto, or perhaps even a rematch with Floyd Mayweather. Sadly for boxing fans, Golovkin must wait. And waiting, for someone who prefers to compete frequently, means matches with guys like Willie Monroe.

Golovkin and Monroe at the weigh-in.
Golovkin and Monroe at the weigh-in.

Golovkin vs Monroe isn’t a real fight, insofar as ‘real’ implies both combatants having a chance at winning. The only thing genuine about it is the damage Monroe will sustain by facing a level of talent his pedigree hasn’t prepared him for. Opportunity takes people out of their comfort zones. Tonight, it will take Willie Monroe to the canvas.

— Eliott McCormick

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