HBO showcased two of the best boxers in the world tonight, Roman Gonzalez and Gennady Golovkin, and both met or exceeded expectations. Which is impressive indeed considering what boxing fans were hoping for in advance of the event.
Flyweight Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez opened the show in his major network debut and in a matter of minutes established himself as a potential boxing superstar.
Mexico’s Edgar Sosa figured to put up a decent challenge for a few rounds. He had everything to fight for and nothing to lose, not to mention a number of world title wins to his credit. While he had lost by decision to respected champion Akira Yaegashi (who would later lose to Gonzalez) in 2013, he had since scored two victories. But despite his experience at the championship level, against Gonzalez he was completely outclassed.
Demonstrating why so many hardcore boxing pundits rank him among the very best in the sport pound-for-pound, Gonzalez took complete control of the fight within seconds and did not relent until he had what he wanted: a knockout.
The Nicaraguan didn’t bother to warm to his task or feel out Sosa. Instead he immediately applied intense pressure and threw punches in high volume, showing off his excellent footwork and astonishing accuracy. It was clear before the opening round was over that this contest could not last long.
And it didn’t. The domination continued in round two and Sosa had little reply. To his credit, he did try to fight back but he was outgunned in every department and totally overwhelmed. Gonzalez’s punch output, precision and balance were simply astonishing. Three knockdowns soon followed and the match was waved off.
The excited crowd at the Inglewood Forum showed great appreciation for Gonzalez’s skill and it’s impossible to imagine a better HBO debut for the 27-year-old champion. No doubt he can look forward to more matches in front of big television audiences in the very near future. Which is great news for boxing.
Up next was Golovkin vs Monroe, a match which figured to be as one-sided as Gonzalez vs Sosa turned out to be. And while the end result was what virtually everyone expected, the contest lasted longer and featured far more toe-to-toe exchanges than anyone had anticpated. The opening round saw high-paced and intense boxing action, both men landing, though Golovkin’s aggression and heavier punches carried the round.
The bout almost ended in round two. Golovkin efficiently cornered Monroe and landed a thunderous left hook which seriously hurt the southpaw. Two knockdowns followed but the game challenger kept getting up and it was something of a surprise to see Monroe walking back to his corner at the bell.
The surprises continued in round three with Monroe starting to stand his ground and land solid shots on Golovkin, something we haven’t seen very much of in GGG’s bouts with higher ranked opponents such as Daniel Geale and Martin Murray. It was still Golovkin’s round and his advantage in sheer power was clear, but what was also clear was that, contrary to expectation, Monroe was a more effective fighter when he stood his ground and put some weight on his punches.
If round three was an entertaining action stanza, round four was a slugfest. Again, almost no one expected what they were watching as Monroe dug in and traded on even terms. Both men took heavy punches and just kept exchanging, to the crowd’s delight. The fifth was more of the same, though Golovkin’s advantage in power surfaced again when he stunned Monroe near the beginning of the round, and one had the sense it was just a matter of time before the GGG artillery decided things. That said, Golovkin returned to his corner after round five marked under both eyes, another surprise.
But in round six Golovkin connected with the finisher, landing a vicious left uppercut that staggered Monroe. A third knockdown followed and “The Mongoose,” showing incredible guts, rose again, but this time he indicated to the referee Jack Reiss he did not wish to continue. It’s impossible to fault Monroe for that decision after he had the courage to go toe-to-toe with one of the most powerful fighters in the game and give boxing fans everywhere a most entertaining battle. He was outgunned, hurting and well behind on points. I’m usually hard on guys who wave a white flag, but in this case, I got nothing but respect. That said, Reiss should have stepped up and made the decision himself. It was clear Monroe was a beaten fighter.
To sum up, Gonzalez and Golovkin, two of the best boxers on the planet, went to work tonight and both gave memorable performances with plenty of highlight reel moments. No one who watched isn’t looking forward to seeing them fight again. What better result could HBO, or serious boxing fans for that matter, hope for?
— Robert Portis