On Saturday September 16, in Hackney Wick, London at the Copper Box Arena, WBO middleweight belt holder Billy Joe Saunders defended his title against former world title challenger Willie Monroe Jr. In the lead up to this contest there were some strong words from Saunders towards Monroe, at one time he referred to him as a “Quitter” referring to his loss against WBA, IBF, IBO and WBC champion Gennady Golovkin. At every opportunity Saunders would storm Monroe’s base of operations in London to belittle the American challenger. On the night of official weigh-in’s, Saunders seven year old son Steve actually jumped on stage and punched Monroe in his testicles a moment that went viral across the internet.
On fight night the ring was plastered with photos of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, reminding fans they would be fighting hours later in Las Vegas Nevada. On the corner pad behind Saunders, was the face of Golovkin with an almost mocking expression that appeared to glare over Saunders shoulder between rounds. Those photos and advertisements for Golovkin versus Canelo helped ease the drudgery getting ready to taking place between Saunders and Monroe by giving fans something they can get excited for.
It started with Saunders pushing forward and Monroe Jr looking for counter punches. Over the next several rounds, Monroe would continue going backwards avoiding Saunders wild hooks that despite crowd reaction mostly missed their intended target. This tempo continued, until rounds four and five when Monroe was able to put forth an offensive burst of punches that made Saunders momentarily move backwards.
With a slight cut near his eye and bridge of his nose from minor head clashes, Saunders at the midway point despite a lack of action almost looked like he had actually been in a fight. This seemed like an opportune moment for Willie Monroe Jr, whose hands were in position to unload his arsenal. There was an anticipation for those watching to see Monroe Jr to act on his opportunity and even UK broadcast members stating “Willie Monroe Jr just needs to let those hands to drive Saunders back and he will go home WBO champion”. Instead he posed, he began to parry, he demonstrated how to feint punches but until the twelfth round failed to let a single punch go with purpose. There was even a moment in round eleven where both fighters appeared friendly and apologized to one another for a clash of heads.
There would be a half hearted effort by both fighters, to close the bout strong but it appeared more for dramatic effect than with actual purpose. When the final scores were announced the judges seen it 117-111, 115-114 and 117-112 all in favor of Billy Joe Saunders, my scorecard read 115-113 also in favor of Saunders. The only way to justify my score and the 115-114 scorecard of judge Julio Cesar Alvarado being so close is Saunders despite being the offensive aggressor threw wild punches and missed his target often. The aggression of Saunders certainly did not fit the criteria of effective aggression, it was at least an attempt to force some sort of action something Monroe Jr seemed unwilling to provide.
While retaining his belt Billy Joe Saunders improved to 25-0 (12), Willie Monroe Jr after his second failed title opportunity now stands at 21-3 (6). As a gesture of good sportsmanship Billy Joe Saunders son did enter the ring and tell Monroe “I’m sorry for punching you in the nuts”.
This was a shameful effort for two professional fighters, especially when one is a belt holder and other ranked in the top ten by a major sanctioning body. I suppose it’s hard to put on your best performance when the ring you fight in is nothing but an advertisement for a fight in another country that same night. It sort of screams “While we wait for Supremacy watching Tedious is good a way as any to pass time”
In Undercard action
Light Heavyweight- Anthony Yarde 13-0 (12) retained his WBO European Light Heavyweight Title and captured the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Title with a third round stoppage over Norbert Nemesapati 25-7 (18).
Heavyweight Daniel Dubois 5-0 (5) def. AJ Carter 8-4 (6) via TKO 1.
Super Featherweight- Archie Sharp 10-0 (6) def. Imre Nagy 15-11 (7) via TKO 2.
Super Middleweight- Zak Chelli 3-0 (1) def. Adam Jones 6-24-5 (1) via UD 6.
Super Middleweight- Lerrone Richards 9-0 (3) def. Ferenc Albert 24-12 (12) via UD 6.
Super Bantamweight- Lucien Reid 7-0 (4) def. Jose Aguilar 16-38-4 (6) via UD 6.
Light Heavyweight- Ryan Hatton 1-0 (1) def. Jack Davies 0-2-1 via TKO 3.
Super Bantamweight- Jake Pettitt 2-0 def. Stefan Sashov 3-13 (3) via UD 4.