Boxing returns to one its great historical venues on Saturday night, as HBO broadcasts Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight title defense vs. Willie Monroe Jr. from the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California. GGG comes into the bout riding a 19-fight KO streak and for his career is 32-0 with 29 KOs. The Olympic silver medalist has been the hottest boxer in the world over the past few years, and also the most avoided.
Willie Monroe Jr., 19-1 with six KOs) has an outstanding boxing pedigree. He is the son of 1990’s contender Willie Lee Monroe and the nephew of Philadelphia legend Willie “The Worm” Monroe, the only man to record an uncontested victory over Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Monroe was a stand-out amateur. He’s a slick southpaw who will give Golovkin the kind of looks that GGG hasn’t seen as a professional.o
Also on the card at the Forum is flyweight sensation Roman Gonzalez. Serious U.S. fans have been hungering for a good look at Gonzalez for years now. The undefeated, three-division world champion from Nicaragua is 42-0 with 36 KOs. He belongs in any credible pound-for-pound top five at this point. He’ll be matched tough against veteran Edgar Sosa, who is 51-8 with 30 KOs.
On Friday night, WBA interim super lightweight champion Jose Benavidez will face Jorge Paez Jr. in his hometown of Phoenix. Benavidez is 22-0 with 15 KOs, but got his belt via a gift decision over Mauricio Herrera last year. For that matter, his “title” is a complete joke anyway. The WBA already recognizes Danny Garcia as their world champion at 140 pounds, along with Jessie Vargas as their “regular” world champion. Recognizing two world champions is enough of an affront as it is. For the WBA to shamelessly plug a third takes outrageous to a new level. Regardless, Benavidez is just 22 and shows promise.
On Saturday night in Mexico, one of the hottest super featherweight prospects in the world, Adrian Estrella, returns to action against Eden Sonsona. Estrella is just 23 and 22-0 with 20 KOs. There should be some big fights for him in the years ahead at 130 and 135 pounds.
Another interesting fight on the dock for this weekend featured unbeaten light middleweight Damian Jonak vs. Ayoub Nefz in Inowroclaw, Poland. Jonak is 32 and has built up an impressive record, but it’s tough to get any sort of gauge on how valid it is, as he’s yet to fight much at all outside of Poland and few of his opponents have been familiar names to an American-based writer. Boxrec has him ranked at 34 in the world. Poland is a great boxing culture and a fighter can have a nice career simply being a local star there. It remains to be seen if he’ll make any sort of move onto a world stage, but he is a name that could pop up in the U.K. or North America in the next year or two.