"He didn't make it to the finals off of being a slouch, you know what I mean. He comes in phenomenal shape. He's proved that this is where he belongs and he's strong and explosive, and he has punching power in both hands and I think it makes for an exciting fight...You looking at two athletes at the peak of where they are right now and two fighters that are hungry and I think it makes for an explosive fight. I think it makes for a great fight and I think that's what's so great about a tournament; the fighters stay hungry the whole time," stated middleweight contender Willie Monroe Jr., who talked about his dominant victory over Vitaliy Kopylenko, his next fight against Brandon Adams in the finals of the Boxcino Tournament, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on the dominant performance on Friday Night Fights over Vitaliy Kopylenko. How do you feel?
WM: I feel good. It was a blessing. We worked our behinds off after the last fight and it's a blessing. I'm happy we got it.
PC: You used some good boxing ability and a lot of lateral movement to pull it off. Did you know going in that would be the keys to a victory for you?
WM: That's my style of boxing. I'm a mobile boxer and puncher. I think the thing that played the most important part was my boxing IQ. I have been preaching that for a long time. I have been in this sport for a long time. My grandfather taught me the art at a young age. Like I said, my grandfather being black and Cuban, I was taught from 2 different schools. You mix that black style with that Cuban style, I mean, you see the Cuban fighters, you get a complete fighter.
PC: Was there anything about him that took you by surprise or was he as advertised in your opinion?
WM: He came as advertised, man. He was strong. He had punching power. I think Bondorovas was stronger. There is a difference between strength and punching power. He had pop on his punches too, where Bondorovas was just physically stronger. But he had pop on his punches. He caught me with a punch in my eye in the 5th round and I couldn't see out of my right eye for the rest of that round. I regained vision in my eye when I went back to my corner and it was on from there.
PC: Obviously the key to a tournament format is to remain injury free. Are you a fan of fighting this often in this format or would you like more time in between fights?
WM: Man, I wish I could fight every two weeks, you know.
PC: Brandon Adams put on a great performance in his fight as well. What do you think of him as a fighter?
WM: I think he is a complete fighter. He didn't make it to the finals off of being a slouch, you know what I mean. He comes in phenomenal shape. He's proved that this is where he belongs and he's strong and explosive, and he has punching power in both hands and I think it makes for an exciting fight.
PC: On paper, this fight does look evenly matched and you both went through some tough guys in this Boxcino tournament. What do you feel will be the difference on fight night to get your hand raised?
WM: We'll have to see when we get in there that night. There are a bunch of things that we can call out. A lot of people called out a bunch of reasons of why Kopylenko was gonna beat me, but we see that didn't happen. We just have to wait until that night. I know he's looking at the Bondorovas fight and the Kopylenko fight and thinking how could he strategically break down Willie Monroe and I'm doing the same thing. You looking at two athletes at the peak of where they are right now and two fighters that are hungry and I think it makes for an explosive fight. I think it makes for a great fight and I think that's what's so great about a tournament; the fighters stay hungry the whole time.
PC: I don't know how much of the pre-fight stuff you got to see, but I think Kopylenko received 67% of the votes to beat you. Do you use that as motivation or do you feel disrespected by it?
WM: Nah man, people entitled to their opinion. What God has in store for you, no man can take from you. I honestly feel like this tournament was tailor-made for Willie Monroe Jr., so what God has for me, no man can take away from me. The whole world against me can't do me no harm as long as God is on my side. So I wasn't worried about that. It didn't bother me because it wasn't like, "Monroe should beat him; he's not in Monroe's class." It was one of those times that all fighters look for where you're not supposed to do something. Not only do you defy the odds, you defy them in a spectacular way. Nobody expected me to beat Kopylenko like that. I didn't always use my legs. It was times that I walked him down. It was times where I was the banger, where on the inside, I made him pay with body shots. I was catching him with the power shots and he's the knockout artist. I feel like Andre Ward right now, who is one of my favorite fighters. I actually had a chance to speak to Andre Ward before the Super Six tournament that he was in and I told him, I said, "Look, I don't care what anybody says. I have been watching you since the amateurs and I was on a couple of teams before you in the amateurs and I think you are gonna win this whole tournament." Andre Ward is a very humble guy and he's close to God himself and he was the least favorite to win and look where he ended up. He came in and not only did he beat everybody, but he beat everybody at what they were supposed to do best. So not only did he defy the odds, he did it in a very daring way. He out-banged the banger, outboxed the boxers, and out fought the fighters. He could have played it strategic, but he pushed the envelope. And not only did he beat these guys bad, he beat them on their terms. So I really feel like Andre Ward right now and with him being one of my favorite fighters, I think Willie Monroe Jr. and Andre Ward are the closest things you will ever see to Roy Jones Jr.
PC: The fight is 5 weeks away. Do you go back into a hard camp or in situations like these, you just maintain throughout the tournament?
WM: I mean, the first 10 days will be about maintaining. It's nice up here in New York. It's about 75 degrees, so I'm gonna go for that 5 miles; just jog and pray and talk to my grandfather, who is no longer with me. I'll just spend a little time maintaining and around the 2nd or the 3rd of the month, we'll kick it into the next gear, but it's about maintaining for the first 10 days. You have to show your body appreciation though so that you can come down and peak again.
PC: Great performance and best of luck in the tournament finale against Brandon Adams. Is there anything else you want to say?
WM: Thank you so much for the interview and thank you for supporting the Team Monroe Movement and thank you for supporting Willie Monroe. And all of the new fans and the fans that have been down with me since day one, I love you and keep God first and keep believing in the movement.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]