"I fought four times and was blessed to come out with two minor titles. I think I showed myself, more than anything, the type of intangibles that I have
I have a lot of intangibles to be able to train and come back home and train under those circumstances. There are things in life that make you or break you and you choose whether it makes you or breaks you, and I chose to let it make me. So the thing last year showed me is that I have all the intangibles to go far
this should be an interesting tournament. I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I'm coming in at middleweight. I really believe that you are about to watch a junior middleweight school a bunch of middleweights, so be sure to watch it," stated middleweight contender Willie Monroe Jr., who talked about his upcoming clash with Donatas Bondorovas next Friday in the first round of the Boxcino Tournament. Check out what else he had to say!
PC: Congratulations on a very successful 2013. How do you assess your year?
WM: Thank you very much. I think I had a good one. I fought four times and was blessed to come out with two minor titles. I think I showed myself, more than anything, the type of intangibles that I have. Two weeks before the title match, which everybody knows that he was basically my father; he really taught me how to fight. My grandparents had me ever since I was three weeks old and two weeks before I fought, he passed away at age 80. There was a huge part of me that felt like throwing my hands up and saying the hell with it, but I stuck in there and done what my grandfather would have wanted me to do and I just showed myself that I have a lot of intangibles to be able to train and come back home and train under those circumstances. There are things in life that make you or break you and you choose whether it makes you or breaks you, and I chose to let it make me. So the thing last year showed me is that I have all the intangibles to go far.
PC: And win, lose, or draw, anytime I see a young fighter like yourself step in there with Darnell Boone, that says a lot to me about your character because he's a guy that can, like you said, make or break a young prospect.
WM: You know, it was a fight I didn't like the scoring on. A lot of ringside observers thought I won, but I lost a split decision to him. But Darnell Boone is a super middleweight/light heavyweight and I'm really a junior middleweight. I came in at 157 for that fight. I'm going into this middleweight tournament, but I will probably come in every time at 57 or 58. Skills pay the bills and that Boone fight taught me a lot too.
PC: What did you take away from that fight?
WM: You know what? The experience of Darnell Boone wasn't actually the experience of fighting Darnell. Not to take anything away from Darnell because he is an awesome fighter. First, before I even answer your question, I'd like to say that Darnell Boone is championship quality. He just had some bad decisions on the management side. Anybody that can knock Adonis Stevenson flat with one punch is a high-caliber fighter. Anybody that can put Andre Ward, who is the number two pound-for-pound fighter on the list, on his behind and almost out is definitely championship caliber, you know what I'm saying? His record is a little deceiving, but he can fight. But the thing that I learned more after that fight is I found out just how dirty the business can be and it took more of an emotional toll on me because everybody, including my team, walked away from me. When you win, you win with everybody; when you lose, you lose alone. The only person that stuck in there with me was my adviser at the time, Johnny Bos. Everybody else disregarded me as if I was damaged goods. That's another time in my life where I learned a lot about myself because I was inactive for a year and a half because I had no one, but I kept my behind in the gym and stayed working and stayed scratching and clawing to get sparring here and there, and when we made that comeback, I hit the ground running. I honestly did it training out of a garage. I didn't have a big lavish gym to go train in with 10 heavy bags and 2 rings and an upstairs and downstairs. I trained...me and a friend of mine turned his 2 ½ car garage into a gym with a 80-pound heavy bag and a double end bag and heat. It was a sweat box. I basically fought my last 4 fights out of this garage with minimum sparring. I guess with that little bit of info alone, you can tell how bad of a fighter I am. I'm a bad boy!
PC: You are entering this middleweight tournament and Donatas Bondorovas is the opponent you drew. He is a tough guy that showed a lot of grit and skill against Bryan Vera on Friday Night Fights. How do you view him as an opponent?
WM: I was about 3 rows back when he fought Bryan Vera. They fought in my neck of the woods. He is a tough guy who won't take no for an answer. A lot of people are saying I have the toughest fight right out of the gate. Not only do I have to fight Bondorovas, but on top of that, I'm fighting him in his backyard. It's going to be a good fight. He's tough, he doesn't take no for an answer, he has a solid chin and a pretty sturdy amateur background, but time will tell. Once we get in there and see what the "Mongoose" is putting down, we will see if he is able to stick around.
PC: You come from a fighting family. How much did being around boxing your entire life help you fight on while dealing with the loss of your grandfather and Bos?
WM: One thing that I realize is that when you see me fight, you will see me sport my Cuban flag. The whole Monroe side of my family are what you call Black Cuban. My great grandfather was a Black Cuban; just that culture and being raised in the south and being raised as a black individual, you are already behind the eight ball so to speak. So it almost makes you tougher because you feel you have to strive just to be two steps ahead. I understand what it's like to have to work hard and one thing my grandfather instilled in all of us is hard work and dedication. I know that phrase is pretty cliché in boxing right now, but it's the truth. My grandfather was like Joe Jackson. I couldn't play basketball with the kids on the street. I couldn't hang out late or hang out with my friends. Boxing wasn't something that I just walked into at a recreation center and I was good at it, so I kept doing it. It was part of my childhood and like a holy grail for us to become a world champion. It's been instilled in us. I have been fighting since before I can remember. I got pictures of me with boxing gloves on before I can even walk. So the way my grandparents raised me and instilled that discipline in me and that work ethic and that spiritual grounding in me to where it takes a lot more than what has happened to me to buzz me.
PC: Tell us about it, man. February 28th, on ESPN 2 and the main event against Donatas Bondorovas to start off this Boxcino tournament.
WM: Yeah, ESPN 2 Friday Night Fights, February 28th to begin the middleweight tournament. You can check out ya boy Willie "El Mongoose" Monroe Jr. That's my alias "El Mongoose". We use the El for my Spanish side and my fighting style is like a mongoose. Make sure you check ya boy out. It's gonna be a fun tournament. You got Brandon Adams, who is 12-0 with 7 knockouts, Daniel Edouard in it, you got Vitalii Kopylenko, Raymond Gatica, Donatas Bondorovas, who I'm fighting, Cerresso Fort and Sena Agbeko, who is Joseph Agbeko's little brother and is 15-0 with 15 knockouts. So this should be an interesting tournament. I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I'm coming in at middleweight. I really believe that you are about to watch a junior middleweight school a bunch of middleweights, so be sure to watch it.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]