Controversial WBO Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders outpointed Willie Monroe Jr in a forgettable bout that will be more remembered for its tasteless pre-fight shenanigans than what happened in their dull 12-round bout. Ahead of the fight, Saunders’ son punched Monroe in the groin during the last weigh in and had to be restrained by staff. Sadly, the younger Saunders showed more offense than either men by the end of the night. A tepid Saunders managed to outwork an even more passive Monroe by scores of 117-112, 117-111 and 115-114 to continue his hostage situation of a title run plagued with inactivity and poor performances.
Monroe did his part to make it easy for Saunders, seldom coming forward until the last few rounds of the fight and failed to mount any sustainable offense as Saunders just simply had to look busy to score points. It was a poor showing for Monroe who saw a potential shot against Saul Alvarez go down in flames when he turned in a similar poor effort in victory against the very faded Gabriel Rosado last September. Previously, Monroe gained notoriety for being one of Gennady Golovkin’s many victims in his long run as champion and many thought he was a live dog against Saunders.
It wasn’t to be as Saunders looked much better than he did in his last fight out, an uneventful first defense of his world title against Artur Akavov, but failed to change the perception that he’s anywhere near the caliber of Alvarez or Golovkin. The win ensures Saunders’ WBO belt can still be used as a bargaining chip for the winner of Alvarez/Golovkin or Miguel Cotto, but the fight game will continue to pay little attention to Saunders as they have after several instances of grandstanding and failing to make any relevant fights since beating Andy Lee for his belt.
With the win, Saunders moves to 25-0 making only the second defense of his Middleweight title won in 2015. Monroe falls to 21-3, and while the loss to Golovkin may have been acceptable, the loss to Saunders and the fashion of how he performed may ensure this may be as close to a title he’s going to get.