Willie Monroe Jr. knew he was in hostile territory at Friday’s weigh-in when the seven-year-old son of his opponent kicked him in the balls. The opponent, Billy Joe Saunders, wasn’t quite as belligerent on the following night at the Copper Box Arena, but the elder Saunders did enough to retain his WBO middleweight title by a unanimous decision, turning away the invader from Rochester, New York by scores of 117-111, 117-112, 115-114.The bout started shortly before midnight London time as a concession to British television which wanted to truncate the lag time between Saunders-Monroe and GGG-Canelo.
This was a tactical right which came as no surprise as both were southpaws and neither packs a hard punch, especially Monroe. There were no knockdowns, but Saunders was cut over his right eye in the fourth round following an accidental clash of heads. Saunders was more active over the second half of the fight and the verdict was fair.
Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) remains undefeated but, more importantly, owns a coveted piece of middleweight hardware which will translate into a big payday when he defends his belt in a unification fight. However, based on his recent efforts he will be a substantial underdog when that day comes. Monroe, who lacked the physicality to effectively respond when pressured, declined to 21-3.
There was a scary moment on the undercard when Daniel Dubois (5-0, 5 KOs) knocked A.J. Carter unconscious with a massive right hand in the opening minute of their scheduled 10 rounder. Carter was given oxygen to hasten his recovery and removed to a hospital as a precaution after leaving the ring on his own power. A 20-year-old Londoner who carries 235-240 pounds on a six-foot-five frame, Dubois is considered the best heavyweight to come down the pike in England since Anthony Joshua.
Also, highly touted light heavyweight Anthony Yarde improved to 13-0 at the expense of Norbert Nemesapati, a 22-year-old Hungarian trial horse, who retired after the third round.