Gennady Golovkin will look to add the name of Willie Monroe Jr. to his lengthy list of victims when the two middleweights clash in Inglewood, California, on Saturday.
GGG (32-0, 29KO) will put his WBA and IBO titles on the line against an American opponent who has never previously fought in a 12-round contest.
However, Monroe (19-1, 6KO) must be taken seriously by the champion, who will be looking toward appearing in some money-spinning fights in the future.
But before he can think about Miguel Cotto or Saul Alvarez, Golovkin first has to do the business against a fighter who will be eager to make the most of his opportunity in the big time.
When: Saturday, May 16, 10 p.m. (ET)/7 p.m. (PT)/3 a.m. (BST)
Where: "Fabulous" Forum, Inglewood, California
TV: HBO (US), BoxNation (UK)
While boxing fans love him, Golovkin is a nightmare matchup for the other middleweights.
Big and powerful and with an aggressive approach, he delivers stoppages that thrill the crowd but make potential opponents wonder if they are better off steering well clear.
He wants to clean up at 160 pounds, telling Brian Campbell of ESPN: "My goal is to win all of the belts in the middleweight division. For me that is very important. I want a unification fight. But for right now my focus is on Monroe. He is a good fighter and I respect him."
His team pushed for a unification clash with Cotto, the current holder of the WBC belt.
However, Tom Loeffler—Golovkin's promoter—revealed to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports that he "got zero response whatsoever" from Cotto's camp over a potential showdown between the two champions.
Until those major fights can be made, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist—who represented his homeland of Kazakhstan in the Games but is now based in California—will continue to stay active.
Picking out Monroe for a fight could be seen as a gamble, simply because there is little really for Golovkin to gain.
Yet, when you have stopped 29 of your 32 opponents to date, the odds are always going to be heavily in your favour. Oddsshark certainly agrees; Golovkin is 1-100 to remain perfect in the professional ranks.
It would be nice to say that a victory over Monroe would move him closer to a bout with one of the division's other big names, but there's hardly a long queue forming to take on the 33-year-old.
Chance to shine
On paper, this looks to be a mismatch.
Golovkin has beaten opponents with bigger and better reputations than Monroe, a 28-year-old whose record suggests he doesn't have the power to worry the champion too much.
However, what the rank outsider does have in his favour is the fact he is a southpaw. And a southpaw with a healthy reach advantage too (74" versus Golovkin's 70″).
Even Golovkin admits that he will have to come to terms with meeting a different type of fighter, per Miguel Maravilla of Fightnews.com:
This is my second fight this year. Why Monroe? He is a southpaw.
Everyone has problems with southpaws.
Sergio Martinez is a southpaw, Floyd is number one pound-for-pound in the world and he had trouble with Judah – a southpaw, Miguel Cotto against Trout, Canelo-Lara, everyone has problems with a southpaw and it’s a challenge.
Monroe's most recent outing saw him defeat Brian Vera—who had previously lost twice in a row to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr—on points.
He has gone the distance in his last five outings, with his only defeat as a pro coming against journeyman Darnell Boone (who had a 17-17 record at the time) back in 2011.
The Mongoose will have to strike from distance and look frustrate his rival. While a win is a tall order, he can certainly make it a tough evening for Golovkin at the wonderfully named "Fabulous" Forum.
Sometimes in boxing you can make a real case for the underdog to come out on top. This, though, is not one of those occasions.
Golovkin may still need to prove himself against the very best (if they ever agree to face him), but he has had no problems putting away fighters who are not on his level.
Against Martin Murray last time out he was taken beyond the 10th round for the first time in his career, yet that said more about the Englishman's grit and determination than anything else.
Monroe's southpaw stance will give Golovkin something to think about, and therefore a stoppage won't arrive until the middle rounds. Expect GGG to show off his power once again and make it 33 straight wins.
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