INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Not that there was any doubt regarding the outcome, but because it took Gennady Golovkin more than five rounds to dispose of Willie Monroe Jr. on Saturday, he may have given a dose of courage to some of his possible opponents.
Miguel Cotto. Canelo Alvarez. Andre Ward. After watching Golovkin register a sixth-round technical knockout before 12,372 at the Forum, they must have been thinking they not only could last with the world middleweight champion but beat him.
Golovkin’s response after his impressive performance? Get in the ring and prove it.
“I showed that I’m a true champion,” said Golovkin, the World Boxing Association and interim World Boxing Council middleweight champion. “I will fight anybody. I want Cotto and Canelo now. Not in the future, but now.”
Golovkin scored his 20th consecutive stoppage and improved to 33-0 with 30 knockouts. He knocked down Monroe twice in the second round, first with a big right hook to the head and then with a vicious left hook to the side of the head, and almost finished him.
But Monroe survived the onslaught of hard rights and lefts. He actually battled his way back into the fight, though only one of the three judges gave him a round in the first five. He had a strong fourth round and landed some solid blows to Golovkin’s head.
However, Monroe had taken a lot of punishment early, and after Golovkin dropped him early in the sixth, Monroe decided he was through. Referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight 45 seconds into the round.
“I asked him if he wanted to continue, and he said, ‘I’m done,’ ” Reiss said.
Monroe (19-2) said he expected a tough fight from Golovkin, and that’s exactly what he got. Monroe threw a greater number of punches — 305-297 — but Golovkin landed the higher percentage of punches, jabs and power punches.
“He’s strong,” Monroe said. “In the second round, we were in motion and he hit me with a good shot.”
In the co-feature, another heavy hitter — Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez — retained his WBC flyweight title with a second-round knockout of Edgar Sosa, looking every bit the pound-for-pound star boxing fans see him as.
Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KOs) pummeled Sosa from the middle of the first round on. He knocked him down three times in the second round, each with a heavy right hand, and Sosa (51-9) never had a chance.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” Gonzalez said. “He was a good fighter, but my power was too much for him.”
Gonzalez’s volume punching quickly wore down Sosa, and though Sosa did come to fight, he was simply overwhelmed. And with the three-knockdown rule in effect in California, that was it for Sosa, as referee Raul Caiz Sr. didn’t need to count him out.
“He surprised me,” Sosa said. “It wasn’t just one punch. It was a series of punches that hurt me.”
Gonzalez was indeed relentless. And in doing so, he set the bar high for the main event.
But Golovkin wasn’t about to let the flyweight champ from Nicaragua steal the show. He used his devastating punching power and had no trouble finding the usually elusive Monroe.
“I never lost control,” Golovkin said. “I have a lot of respect for Willie Monroe. He wasn’t scared. He came to fight.”
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, said: “I thought they could have stopped the fight in the second round, but Gennady wanted to work on some things. What we saw tonight was 70 to 80 percent of how good Gennady can be.”
Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, said he’ll do everything he can to accommodate his fighter.
“You can’t force someone to fight,” Loeffler said. “But we want to have Gennady fight in September, and hopefully have him fight in Las Vegas for the first time in December. Whether that’s Cotto or Canelo or Andre, that remains to be seen.”
Golovkin showed he was certainly worthy of being in the best pound-for-pound fighter conversation that starts with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and includes himself and Gonzalez.
“It was a big drama show,” Golovkin said. “I was very happy with my performance. It was another step forward.”
Someone asked Golovkin if he thought Mayweather would fight him. Golovkin laughed.
“Ask him,” he said. “This is business. Show me the contract.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.