A very good card got better on Monday, when Banner Promotions announced that Willie Monroe Jr. would be facing John Thompson on June 11 at Turning Stone Casino, as part of the undercard for Ruslan Provodnikov’s highly anticipated clash with John Molina. The fight will be shown on Showtime Extreme, prior to the main card being aired on Showtime.
Monroe and Thompson are both former champions of the ESPN Boxcino tournament. Monroe won the 2014 middleweight brackets in a relative cake walk. He won near shutouts over Donatas Bondorovas, Vitaliy Kopylenko and Brandon Adams, losing just a handful of rounds on the combined judges’ cards. He followed up on that win in January 2015 with a stellar performance against Bryan Vera, knocking the rugged Texan down in Round 5 and once again winning nearly every round.
That victory landed him a title shot against Gennady Golovkin, which went about as well for Monroe as it has for everybody else Golovkin has faced. Monroe hit the canvas twice in Round 2 but recovered and did his best to battle back gamely, before hitting the deck again in Round 6 and then indicating to the referee that he was no longer interested in continuing. That fight was just over a year ago and Monroe has not been in the ring since.
Thompson won the 2015 junior middleweight tournament. Like Monroe, he faced Adams in the finals, but knocked him out in Round 2. That victory earned him a shot at the vacant WBO light middleweight belt, where he was stopped in Round 7 by Liam Smith.
This is a good fight for both men at this point in their careers. Thompson had gained a lot of momentum with his knockout of Adams and a win over Monroe would put him in good position to get another high-profile fight in the always talent-packed 154-pound division.
For Monroe, this is a chance to get back in the win column against a quality opponent. It’s something he desperately needs to do, after a year of inactivity following his brutal defeat against Golovkin.