A pair of boxing’s best fighters, pound-for-pound, recorded impressive knockouts as co-headliners Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Here are five things we learned as middleweight Gennady Golovkin and flyweight Roman Gonzalez remained unbeaten.
1. Golovkin’s “show” is unrivaled in the sport
Fighters such as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao draw much bigger purses and attention as boxing’s two biggest pay-per-view brands. But no other fighter creates lively and positive anticipation before his bouts quite like "the Kazakh KO King.” The fact that Golovkin follows through each time with a satisfying conclusion has him seemingly on the verge of crossover stardom. Despite Willie Monroe Jr.'s providing a tougher-than-expected performance, GGG still delivered the boom to record his staggering 20th straight knockout. Unable to land the big names, Golovkin’s in-ring frequency -- becoming a quarterly draw for HBO and fans alike -- has clouded the fact that he has mostly disposed of B- and C-level opponents. Yet Golovkin’s Tysonesque qualities keep fans and consumers coming back for more with smiles almost as wide as the one Golovkin parades outside the ring. GGG not only makes sure to win nearly every round between the ropes, but he has also been basically undefeated outside them -- particularly in post-fight interviews -- which has added to his beloved and growing legend.
2. GGG’s power is the ultimate equalizer
Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) was hit more often and more convincingly than we have been accustomed to seeing by the slick southpaw Monroe before his eventual sixth-round exit. For the first time, Golovkin looked human. In fact, Monroe not only outlanded Golovkin 33 to 30 in Round 4, according to CompuBox, but he also sat down on his punches and clearly earned GGG’s respect with accurate shots. It was fair to question whether Golovkin, who floored Monroe twice in Round 2 and looked on the verge of finishing him, had punched himself out a bit, especially after GGG looked a bit sloppy in Round 3. Golovkin, who recently moved his family from Germany to Southern California, explained after the bout that he was looking to give his fans a present, intimating that he allowed Monroe to hang around so the fight “was not five minutes.” Regardless of which side of the argument holds more truth, Golovkin’s power acts as a convenient insurance plan, should things not go his way in the ring. For as much success as Monroe had in pockets of this fight, the inevitability loomed that he simply wasn’t going to be able to endure GGG’s sick power for the full 12 rounds. So far, in fact, they haven’t been able to find someone who can.
3. Monroe’s stock was elevated in defeat
After succumbing to a third knockdown in Round 6 and barely beating the 10 count from referee Jack Reiss, Monroe (19-2, 6 KOs) asked out of the fight. But it wasn’t a moment that brought the negativity typically associated with a fighter quitting. Monroe had exceeded expectations as a heavy underdog, and to beat an old cliché, he came to win the fight. Golovkin’s unrivaled ability to cut off the ring limited avenues for Monroe’s success, from the standpoint of circling and outboxing him. Yet despite just six knockouts to his record and a reputation as a light hitter, Monroe gave Golovkin something to think about on more than one occasion with clean, hard shots. “The Mongoose” demonstrated his speed and ability to land shots from different angles, and he won the respect of fans with his toughness. Monroe, the 2014 Boxcino middleweight champion, used the previous year to go from virtual unknown to title contender. Along the way, he was the incredibly rare fighter openly vying for a shot at Golovkin. Sure, Monroe became another notch on GGG’s belt, but he proved he belongs.
4. Roman Gonzalez’s HBO debut lived up to the hype ...
... and that’s saying something, considering how long hard-core fight fans have clamored for the flyweight punching machine to grace the shores of American premium cable. But Gonzalez, 27, already a three-division titleholder, defended his 112-pound belt with a second-round dismantling of tough veteran Edgar Sosa (51-9, 30 KOs). The native of Nicaragua -- nicknamed “Chocolatito” -- floored Sosa three times before referee Raul Caiz Sr. waved the fight off at 2:37. After The Forum crowd greeted him with a lustful ovation, Gonzalez lived up to every ounce of expectation in a showcase of his clinical, destructive style. In the first televised fight at a weight class that small on HBO since 1995, Gonzalez proved even the little guys can bring the excitement.
5. Chocolatito’s power and efficiency are scary
Gonzalez landed 72 of 130 punches against Sosa, and he did so with the calm, surgical precision typically associated with Golovkin. Gonzalez might be the better fighter altogether, and he certainly has faced much stiffer competition, in relation to his own weight class. Against Sosa, a former two-division titlist, Gonzalez was never in a hurry, and he was plenty responsible, from a defensive standpoint, for being such an explosive puncher. He is undoubtedly the real deal, and the fact that he has plenty of long-term business to attend to, in the form of a much-anticipated rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada or a lower-weight superfight with Naoya Inoue, has fans around the globe excited to find out how great he can be.