Saunders-Monroe Jr. Recap
While not all may have enjoyed the fight, Billy Joe Saunders successfully retained his WBO Middleweight Championship, defeating Willie Monroe Jr. via unanimous decision.
“It was just good getting in the ring and getting the ring rust off,” Saunders said after the fight. “Good sturdy opponent, good comeback [after] 9 months. Boring for the fans, but it’s a win.”
While there was not much action going on in round one, with both men feeling each other out, Saunders still landed a few decent shots. Monroe’s production increased a bit in round two, but Saunders still worked the jab well on his challenger.
Saunders increased the pressure in the third, forcing Monroe to the ropes, though a shot behind the head went unnoticed by the referee (despite complaints from Monroe’s corner). Saunders did suffer some damage in the fourth, as an accidental clash of heads between both men formed a cut around Saunders’ right eye, with blood trickling into the eye.
Monroe did have another round of somewhat increased striking in the fourth, but it seemed he could not take advantage of that momentum in the fifth round, as Monroe was once again bullied and pressured against the ropes by the champion.
The sixth and seventh rounds suffered from a lack of production from both men, and both seemed close based on what was thrown. In the eighth, Monroe seemed to be in control, but Saunders caught him hard late in the round, forcing the ref to keep a close eye on the action, ready to jump in.
Fatigue seemed to get to Monroe in the ninth, as he didn’t seem to do as much as he could. And while he seemed to fight back in the last three rounds, it was not enough.
The judges all ruled the bout in favor of Saunders, 117-111, 115-114, 117-112.
“Nine months in, to get in the ring with a slick southpaw like him…just get through this fight because I know what’s next,” Saunders said, hinting he might fight the winner of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin bout.
Dominic Ingle, Saunders’ trainer, hinted that if Golovkin wins, a fight could take place in December; meanwhile, if Alvarez wins, that fight could take place in 2018.
“Even if Golovkin loses, that’s still a good fight,” Ingle said.
But not all is lost for Monroe. After the fight, Saunders called his son into the ring, and Saunders’ son issued an apology for hitting him below the belt at the weigh-in.
“I’m sorry for punching you in the nuts,” he said.