12 Rounds With … Willie Monroe Jr.

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Middleweight contender talks PBC on FS1 co-main event, his unique "Mongoose" style and why he wants Jermall Charlo next.

Willie Monroe Jr. plans to dominate 160-pound counterpart Javier Francisco Maciel this in their PBC on FS1 co-main event this Friday night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Monroe hopes a victory will earn him bouts against unbeaten Jermall Charlo or WBA champion Ryota Murata.

The 31-year-old Monroe (22-3, 6 KOs) is 3-2 in his past five fights, having sandwiched unanimous decisions over John Thompson and title challenger Gabriel Rosado in June and September 2016 between losses to unbeaten champions Gennady Golovkin (sixth-round TKO) and Billy Joe Saunders (unanimous decision) of England in May 2015 and September.

Monroe, whose nickname is “The Mongoose” bounced back from his loss to Saunders with a UD win over Carlos Galvan in March, and is training at the SNAC gym in San Carlos, California, where sparring has included unbeaten ex-champ Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade. 

What did you learn from each of your losses—starting with the one to GGG?

I was only 19-1. I would have liked to have had four or five fights before I had to take a fight of that caliber. But guys in my position don’t get world title shots every day, so I wasn’t going to turn that down.

I live by the motto “Go big, win big,” so I’m not scared of anyone. Given the moment and being in the position I was in as a fighter, I believe that I showed I can perform on that level. It was just a little too much for where I was, then and there.

How about the loss to Billy Joe Saunders?

I look at that as another fight where I earned my stripes. I had to end a year-long ring absence by going into Saunders’ backyard because you just never know where you’re going to get those opportunities.

Going over to another country and having to deal with the adversity that I had to deal with, some guys get it early, but some get it late. But a couple months after that fight, I was signed by [new management,], which has opened doors.

I’m a gifted, talented fighter with a great amateur background. I’m a guy who is very sharp, fast, and explosive, and I feel as is if I’m going to be kept busier than I have been in the past.

How did the long layoffs between fights affect you?

After I fought Golovkin, I was off for 13 months before beating John Thompson. I still looked sharp because of my application to the game, and the fact that I never left the gym between fights. Then I beat Gabriel Rosado over 12 rounds on three week’s notice.

After that I was out of the ring for an entire year before I got the title shot against Billy Joe Saunders. So there have been a few ups and downs in my past few fights, and when you’re not being kept busy, you can fall through the cracks.

But I feel very fortunate to be in the position I’m in, now. It’s time to take advantage of everything that has culminated in my having this moment to show up and prove that I’m the real deal and that I deserved to be in the bigger fights.

I live by the motto “Go big, win big,” so I’m not scared of anyone. I believe that I showed I can perform on that level. It was just a little too much for where I was, then and there. Middleweight contender Willie Monroe Jr. on fighting GGG

How do you characterize your style?

I’ve always been a skillful, cerebral fighter, but I’m even more improved because of the experience I’ve gained from the things that have happened in my career, and the experience of being able to, at times, find holes in Golovkin’s game.

Having been so young in my career when all of the odds were against me, I’ve gained more confidence to be able to walk through the fire. I’m in a position where I’m going to have more opportunities to display my skills.

Is that what you believe—that you’re the best man Maciel will have fought?

I believe I’m the best fighter he’ll have fought, absolutely. I’m a lot more seasoned having been in big fights, with Golovkin and Saunders or even with a John Thompson.

On the other hand, I never like to downplay a fighter’s abilities because on any given night someone can beat you. I have to prove myself on fight night, not just talk about it.

How does this fight break down and how do you win?

Intelligence and skills pay the bills, and if I’m at my 100 percent best and I make him respect me, it will be an easier fight. If the knockout doesn’t come for me, then Maciel shouldn’t be able to get close to me.

I just have to go out there and fight like “The Mongoose,” being that slick and masterful southpaw, looking pretty and making it look easy and not even allowing Maciel to be able to win a round

If you’re successful against Maciel, is there a specific champion you would like to face?

I was hoping I could be up for the IBF belt since Golovkin’s vacated it, but you have [Ryota Murata] or Jermall Charlo.

Since Charlo and I have the same management, I know that’s a fight that can be made to happen.

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