Willie Monroe Jr. Q&A: ‘He’s going to get his backside beat’
By Ian Aldous: On Saturday September 16th, Willie Monroe Jr. (21-2) makes his second challenge for a world title when he battles the undefeated WBO king, Billy Joe Saunders (24-0), at the Copper Box Arena in London, live on BT Sport and Boxnation in the UK. This past Saturday, Monroe took part in a Facebook live video to answer questions submitted by myself and other media outlets.
IA: Billy Joe Saunders is known for talking A LOT. How did you find him to be at the press conference to announce the fight?
WM: It was everything I expected. I mean, he was a little quieter with me than he has been with other opponents, but it was what I expected. That’s neither here nor there with me. Talk all you want, when that first bell goes – can’t nobody save you.
IA: Why do you think he referred to you as ‘mentally weak’?
WM: He referred to me as mentally weak because in his mind, that gave him an up. We’re not stupid, they made their mistake when they were proposed with the opportunity to fight me two times before and they turned us down. So, am I mentally weak or is he mentally weak? Because I was up for it the first two times – I was ready for it on four weeks’ notice – let’s fight! He can say I’m mentally weak because I called it quits or whatever in the Golovkin fight, but at least I signed the contract and got in the ring. He lost his pen when it was time to fight Golovkin. He couldn’t find his pen or the contract! He conveniently lost his pen – so you tell me who has more heart?
IA: Will his spiky behavior bring out a nastier Willie Monroe Jr.?
WM: It’s definitely put some fire up under me. I think that’s a big mistake on his behalf. Last thing you want to do is make a nice guy mad. I’m a very composed, very disciplined person. So, he’s going to get his ass beat and it’s going to be brutal, but it’s still going to be done with precision and intellect and patience. I’m not going to go in there and be crazy because that’s what he wants. That’s why he’s doing everything he’s doing. He’s pulling out all the stops, but I’ve been up and down this road before. I’ve seen it, done it – been there. It’s just another walk in the park for me personally.
IA: No-one’s been able to defeat Saunders so far, why should British fight fans worry that you’ll take the title back to the U.S?
WM: Because he’s never fought nobody like me. We can go down the list of everybody he’s fought. He fought an old Andy Lee, Andy Lee was sixty before he fought him! And he beat Chris Eubank Jr. in a very close fight. Eubank was inexperienced and it was a very close fight. He dropped Andy Lee twice in his (own) backyard and still made out with a majority decision. If I drop somebody twice in Rochester, in my own backyard, and only make it out with a majority decision – we kind of know what happened. I’m just stating facts. These guys have these big promoters, a lot of money, and they pick and choose who they fight. They build this aura about them and everybody says ‘he’s good’, then they put them in there with a real cat like me, then you see who they really are. I’m glad I’m the underdog too, I’m about to come up in two ways. I’m getting fired up now talking about it!
IA: How many of his fights have you seen in full?
WM: I really don’t watch his fights because he sucks to me. My team watches his fights. I’ve seen a couple of his fights. He tries to be slick (pauses), screw him, man. Forget him (laughs).
IA: In some of your wins, experts and fans have been critical of your defensive and cautious style. How do you react to negative comments like that?
WM: What people need to understand number one is – how I do my job is how I do my job. I don’t show up at McDonald’s telling people how to flip burgers, I don’t show up to these big corporate places telling people how to run their office. I’ve done what I needed to do to be successful with all the odds against me. You get somebody like (Conor) McGregor and they talk about how he had to live on welfare and they say how he made it through, c’mon man, I was raised like that. Me and my wife had to support two kids and work two jobs while pushing for this career. When Willie Monroe says it – it’s not cool or respectable, but when McGregor says it – it’s different. I’ve been able to function at this level with all the odds against me. These people don’t know what it’s like to go fight for $400 or $600. They don’t know what it’s like. I spent more money getting ready for these fights than I made in the fight.
IA: Last time I spoke with you, it was prior to your GGG fight. Despite the loss, are you a better fighter for the experience of fighting the very best in the sport?
WM: Absolutely, I feel like I’m a better fighter. They shot me straight up to the top guy and I couldn’t turn that down, because I may not get another world title opportunity again. Being on that big stage, on HBO, 15,000 screaming fans, 14,995 are for him, that’s a lot of pressure under those lights. I can look back and say maybe it was too big, but I also believe that God doesn’t make any mistakes. I got a glimpse, this is what it takes to be here, this is what you have to deal with here. I got back with one of my old trainers, Armando Munoz, and we started doing things I used to do. Now I’m fully equipped to go thousands of miles into another man’s backyard and when they sent us the contract everything is in their favor. When they said they want this, I said ‘OK’, well we need this ‘all right’, well you can’t have this, ‘OK’. I was cool with all of that because Billy Joe Saunders is no Golovkin and I had to deal with those same things (with Golovkin). So, if I can deal with Golvokin in the six rounds I was in there and hold my own with all that pressure against me, two years later and I’ve been on an even bigger stage (AT&T stadium) – this will be a [expletive] walk in the park, excuse my French!
IA: What are your thoughts on the GGG/Canelo super-fight?
WM: I can’t even lie – I’m excited. I’m a fighter but I’m also a fan and I look at both of those guys as great fighters. The promotion and the commercial has driven me over the top. After I beat Billy Joe Saunders, I’m going to be sitting there with the WBO belt strapped around me like a little kid watching that fight. I’m more excited for that fight than the McGregor/Mayweather fight. Personally, I think Canelo’s going to win, but I just think it’s going to be an awesome fight and I commend both of those guys for being world champions at the top of their game right now – and they’re fighting each other!
IA: Potentially the winner of your fight with Billy Joe gets the winner of GGG/Canelo for all of the 160lbs belts. How do you feel about the prospect of fighting in a very rare undisputed world title fight?
WM: I’m on the fence with it, because I think Canelo’s going to win, and I would love to fight either one of those guys, but I think Canelo has what it takes to beat him. Part of me wants Golovkin to win so I can get my get back (revenge). I want my get back! I want Canelo to win because he’s one of my favorite fighters and I’d love to fight Canelo. Obviously, fighting Canelo would bring me more money – but I want my get back.
IA: You’re thirty years old now; do you feel like you’re at your peak?
WM: I’m coming into my prime. I’ve always been what they call a ‘late-bloomer’. A lot of guys fall into their prime around twenty-seven or twenty-eight, but I’m a ‘late-bloomer’. And I spent the majority of my career at middleweight when I was a junior-middleweight as that was the only place I would fit in to get fights and I had to outsmart guys. I’m fighting guys walking around fifteen pounds heavier than me and people look at my record saying ‘you’ve only got six knockouts and you’re not a big puncher’ – wrong. I’ve been fighting a lot of guys way bigger than me, so I’m not expected to knock out guys fifteen pounds heavier than me. But now as a thirty year old, I’m filling out and starting to carry my muscle a little better, my bone density is starting to fill out. When you’re fracturing cruiserweight and heavyweight ribs in camp with hooks to the body, and you’re only 175lbs – that means I’m filling out as a true middleweight.
For the entire in-depth, hour-long video interview, check out Willie Monroe’s Facebook fan page:
WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders will make the second defence of his crown against New York’s Willie Monroe Jr on Saturday September 16th at London’s Copper Box Arena, live on BT Sport and BoxNation.
Tickets for Saunders v Monroe Jr priced at £40, £50, £70, £100, £150, £200 and £250 (VIP/Hospitality) are available from: