In sporting and entertainment culture there are only a few shrines left from days gone by. Often times dank with yesteryear’s proverbial blood, sweat and tears, these old structures are still cherished by the generations of fans who have worshiped there. Whereas Rome’s Coliseum is still standing in spite of its dilapidated squalor, America is less patient. Between financial aspirations of business owners and the ever increasing manipulation of large corporations most of our arenas and stadiums have been torn down and rebuilt.
A few survivors still stand defiant and proud. Chicago has kept hold of its fabled Wrigley Field despite over a century of championship droughts. Los Angeles (or more accurately Inglewood) still features one of its most fabled halls, the LA Forum. Known the world over, the Forum was officially recognized by the US government in 2014 and given status in the National Register of Historic Places.
Since its erection in 1967, the Forum has played host to countless boxing matches. A lot have been forgotten but many have lived on indelibly in the memory of those spectators who were lucky enough to play witness. Its heyday lasted through the 70’s and 80’s and heavily spotlighted some of history’s great Latino pugilists. In a battle of all time greats, Alexis Arguello knocked out Ruben Olivares in 1974. Carlos Zarate took out Alfonso Zamora in ’77. Mexico’s boxing god, Julio Cesar Chavez recorded a stoppage over Roger Mayweather in ’89. The first light flyweight million-dollar purse also took place there in March of ’93 when Michael Carbajal took on Humberto Gonzalez (more on this fight later). After a lapse of relevant activity, the Forum came back into focus last year when Juan Manuel Marquez defeated Mike Alvarado.
Pound for Pound Golovkin vs Monroe Jr – HBO Boxing Preview
This Saturday’s card features two of boxing’s hardest hitters and both occupy the top-10 pound for pound lists of most writers. In the co-main event, we get to see Edgar Sosa in a flyweight title fight against the surging and highly respected Roman “El Chocolatito” Gonzalez. In the main, up and comer Willie Monroe Jr. will take on arguably boxing’s most feared fighter Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. This is very much a throwback card. Two of boxing’s top KO artists pitted against two formidable challengers who are hungry. Some may cite the “B-Sides” as being pure filler, the end result should be a fun experience for all who watch.
The United States have always been a firm supporter in “the bigger, the better.” This has historically translated into boxing’s most well-known figures. The US worships and reveres fighters such as Ali, Dempsey, Tyson and Louis. South of the equator a more modestly sized fighter is recognized. There, names like Lopez, Chavez, Arguello and Duran dominate the conversation.
There are exceptions to the rule however. The most famous being the ridiculously lucrative Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight. That was in the welterweight division though, arguably the most glamorous division in boxing outside of heavyweight.
It is still rare to see anyone below lightweight enter the US public consciousness. The last fighter to truly achieve this was Michael Carbajal. As previously mentioned he was able to secure million-dollar guarantees and also produce dramatic KOs. The finish has always been the most desired end result in boxing. As much as we love wars, we admire and fear those who can disconnect body from reality in a fight. In the lighter divisions this trait is largely absent.
ROMAN GONZALEZ vs EDGAR SOSA
Luckily for us, premium television will finally broadcast a fighter who has all of the desirable characteristics of a big future draw in a lighter weight class. Roman Gonzalez fits the bill and very well could be boxing’s next superstar. Currently, Roman is riding a considerable amount of hype from boxing’s hardcore fans and writers. More importantly he is on an eight fight KO streak. Overall, he sits pretty on an unblemished record of 42-0 with an 86% KO ratio.
For his mainstream debut he takes on the well-versed veteran Edgar Sosa. Sosa holds victories over some of the best like Giovanni Segura and Brian Viloria. He was also a long-time light flyweight champion. “El Chocolatito” is unfazed though. Gonzalez has displayed an innate ability to fight through difficult circumstances.
Primarily, Roman has showcased his skills in Japan where the smaller classes are more respected. Obviously he has defeated their top competitors. The most impressive of his victories would be his dismantling of Akira Yaegashi last September.
Gonzalez has ventured onto US soil on three occasions as well. His last fight in America was also his last to go the distance. That was a thriller of a contest versus Juan Francisco Estrada in November of ’12.
The flyweight division is one of the most competitive in all of boxing. Unfortunately for Americans, to know this they would have to turn to Spanish/Portuguese/Russian/Japanese language streams on YouTube. Here’s to hopefully a valiant showing by both men that will help propel their division to the forefront.
GENNADY GOLOVKIN vs WILLIE MONROE JR.
On Saturday, Roman Gonzalez will be looking to display his power to the unfamiliar masses. Meanwhile in the main event Gennady Golovkin is expected to continue showing his. Currently riding an insane streak of 19 straight knockouts, Golovkin is indisputably boxing’s most feared fighter.
Undefeated (32-0) over the course of his 9 year professional career he came into the sport boasting an impressive amateur record. Currently he carries an eye-opening KO ratio of 90%. That is a record setter for the fabled Middleweight division and the best among active champions. His sensational style has lent itself well on premium television. With the exception of Canelo Alvarez he is arguably HBO’s favorite fighter.
Still coming into his own as a domestic draw, there is one thing that Golovkin has not been able to do. That is land a big name opponent. The killer from Kazakhstan is putting fear into all of the top tier talent. The lineal middleweight champ, Miguel Cotto, has been sure to distance himself from a bout with GGG, as has anyone else who is immediately within his weight range.
Golovkin is not holding out for a big payday though. Instead he has kept himself relatively busy and has taken on the best that is willing to face him. This Saturday is following that same model. His opponent Willie Monroe Jr. is a somewhat unknown commodity to most fans. He caught fire in 2014 when he beat three opponents that year to win ESPN’s inaugural “Boxcino” middleweight tournament.
He followed that up in January this year topping battle-hardened Brian Vera. That brought his record up to a respectable 19-1. The lone defeat came via split decision in 2011 to Darnell Boone. To the unfamiliar, Boone is boxing’s best fighter with an abysmal .500 record. He took light heavyweight killer Sergey Kovalev to a split decision. He also is the only man to defeat the other force at light-heavyweight, Adonis Stevenson. He did that by knockout.
Monroe is a classic boxer and his record reflects that. Largely devoid of power he only has 6 knockouts to his name. This obviously serves in contrast to the dangerous hands of Gennady. A slick boxer could prove to be a foil for Golovkin. All in all most expect another dynamite performance from GGG. HBO is looking to piggyback off last week’s dramatic KO of Kirkland from Canelo.
Here’s to another great night of fights. Be sure to check out all of the action beginning at 10pm EST.