Willie Monroe: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Willie ‘El Mongoose’ Monroe Jr. (19-2-0) hasn’t been in the ring since May of 2015 when he fought Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin on HBO. Although he was stopped in the 6th, he stood toe-to-toe with GGG for several rounds and dominated on the inside. Normally that type of performance will get a fighter another televised date on the cable behemoth, but for Monroe, things haven’t been normal lately. He’s been shelved, mishandled and abandoned, but all the while maintaining an acute assiduity on his goal of getting another title shot. We were fortunate enough to have an opportunity to talk to Monroe about what he has on deck and the cruel culture of boxing.

 


 

YOU’VE BEEN OUT OF THE RING SINCE LAST MAY. HAS IT BEEN TOUGH FOR YOUR TEAM TO GET FIGHTS OR ARE YOU GUYS JUST BEING PATIENT AND WAITING FOR THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY? 

It’s kind of sad because I’ve just been going through managerial problems, man. I’m going thru my manager trying to sue me right now. He got caught trying to steal money from me. I don’t know how you sue someone when you got caught trying to steal from them and they fire you. Promotional, they talk to you when they want to talk to you. I just dibble and dabble in other things while staying in shape. I do have a college degree and then on top of that I just passed my civil service exam. It’s kind of sad the way this boxing world is right now. These promoters and managers are their own favorite people, not realizing that the fighters are the ones taking and giving the punches. We’re supposed to be these dumb guys who can’t think for a living so we have to fight and [Managers/Promoters] are supposed to be able to take advantage of you. When they’re not able to take advantage of you and they see how intelligent you’re, then it becomes a problem. It’s just the nature of the business. It’s sad but it is what it is.

IS THIS ISSUE WITH YOUR MANAGEMENT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED RECENTLY?

You know what, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been going on for a while and I’ve been giving this guy chances. I would just let it slide because it was only $500; it was only $700. When we got to the Brian Vera fight . . . he stole $6000 on a sponsor from me and I was just like, “that’s it.” I can’t keep giving [my manager] chances, taking money and then forging my signature trying to get his managerial cut right out of my check before I got it. Now he’s trying to sue me because I went online and I put a picture of me and him up and I said, “Any fighter that signs to this manager, watch your pockets.” He’s trying to sue me for defamation of character. I thought you could only sue somebody for defamation of character if they were lying.

We take all the punishment, we go through these training camps, we lose a piece of ourselves every time we fight. Every time we fight there’s a piece of us left in that ring that we can’t get back. We have to deal with the fans, the commentators and all the negativity that comes with it. Then to know the people that are supposed to be on your team are underhanded, it’s sad. A lot of fighters don’t talk about it because a lot of people tell them it’s not going to look good . . . don’t air out dirty laundry. Then you end up hearing about them being broke 15 years later down the line. All that money that came in, all those big fights, why are they broke? Well, I’m a little different. I’m gonna talk about it . . . I’m gonna show what it is. You’re not gonna see me on TV 15 years from now on one of those Behind the Music type of shows saying how people were stealing money from me. I’m gonna let this be known right now.

The fighters make all the sacrifices and get the least cut of the money. How does that make sense?

ARE THE MANAGEMENT ISSUES GOING ON RIGHT NOW PREVENTING YOU FROM SIGNING FOR ANOTHER FIGHT?

It’s sad, man. I don’t know. I’m praying, using my education, my smarts and my wits to the best of my ability to make the right moves. These people don’t care, man. I don’t care what they put out here in the media, the world needs to know these people don’t care. They’re a bunch of corporate pigs that just want to use a fighter for all he has, tear him down, and then on to the next one. Promoters can promote for years, managers can manage for years, fighters only have a short window. You would think they would try to maximize the fighter and allow him to make the money he makes to be able to take care of his family; his kids.

They don’t give a fuck about that, man. They don’t give a fuck about nobody but themselves, man. Why should a promoter walk away with $10,000,000 and the fighters walk away with $750,000 a piece? They ‘re not throwing punches, they’re not taking any punches and they’re not in a six-week training camp away from their families sacrificing for weeks and weeks. But, it’s the nature of the business, it’s sad.

150516-golovkin-vs-monroe-slideshow-02
Willie Monroe, Jr. (R) connects with a right hand on GGG (L) in an HBO bout at The Forum.

CANELO HASN’T PICKED HIS NEXT OPPONENT YET, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR NAME IS ON THE SHORTLIST FOR ANOTHER BIG FIGHT. WHAT FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE GGG FIGHT WILL HELP YOU IN A CANELO FIGHT?

It’s not about the experience of fighting, it’s the experience of being on that level. It can be a little overwhelming. I wasn’t built like a Canelo or a GGG. These guys were groomed and they were put in there with guys they should’ve beat. There was an agenda behind their career to make them who they are. There was no agenda behind my career. I was just beating people ass because I’m good. Going into other guy’s backyard fighting a weight class or two up, just because I can fight. That’s how I got to the top. I didn’t get there by a manager with a lot of money behind me making sure I fight this guy and that guy to build up a persona about me, to make me marketable. I got there by whooping ass and that’s how I plan to stay there.

It’s just a little overwhelming on that level when you’re in the arena and there’s 15,000 screaming fans and 14,990 are for your opponent. GGG had an opportunity to come on HBO four or five times with guys he should’ve beat so they could build a persona. So was Canelo on Showtime and HBO. My first time on HBO I go straight to the lion’s den, so it was a little overwhelming. I jumped out of the skillet right into the fire. But I’m the type of person that you only have to show me some shit once and from here on out . . . I’ll have it down pat. If I get this fight with Canelo, you’ll see a totally different Willie Monroe.

Coming off a fight with GGG, one of the top dogs in boxing, there’s no way I should’ve been inactive a year.

BOXING IS A DANGEROUS SPORT AND CAN BE VERY UNKIND BEHIND THE SCENES. DO YOU THINK BOXING WOULD BENEFIT FROM HAVING ONE GOVERNING BODY LIKE THE NBA OR NFL MAKING IT MORE FAIR FOR FIGHTERS?

It would be but then again you take away the essence of what makes boxing exciting. I don’t mind it being more promoted, it doesn’t need to be one sole promoter. But, the fact that they try to get over on the guys who are actually putting in the work . . . there needs to be something, something to protect the fighters. People die and get hurt in this sport all the time and these promoters are okay with it. There needs to be something done about that. I’m not saying all promoters are like that and I’m not saying all managers are like that but from the looks of it, the majority of the boxing world is a don’t give a fuck world.

We get up and we run five and six miles in the morning. We don’t get to see our families because we’re in training camps. People think because we’re in training camp in California, Florida, or Texas . . . That don’t make it fun because of the location. It’s not like we’re sitting on the beach sipping mojitos while we’re in training camp, man, we’re working. It’s training three times a day. Look at these promoters, they sit back with their beers, they sit back with their drinks, scotches, popcorn, steaks, and live it up good. The fighters, trying to make weight, eat salads and chicken, you know what I’m saying? The fighters make all the sacrifices and get the least cut of the money. How does that make sense?

I GET IT COMPLETELY. IT’S INCREDIBLY UNFORTUNATE.

There needs to be things setup so fighters can know how to pay their taxes. The promoters are the ones who pay you so they are the ones who are in charge of getting you your 1099, your W2, this that and the third. They take their sweet time with giving you that. You’re already underpaid, at least give me my shit so I can pay my taxes. Now I get hit with more penalties, lose more money, and have to come crawling back to the promoter to get a bigger fight to pull myself out of the hole…that they put me in. It’s fucking sad.

HOW IS YOUR PROMOTIONAL SITUATION? ARE THEY DOING WHAT YOU EXPECT?

I don’t know what’s going on. I was supposed to fight in Chicago next week but the commission didn’t clear the other guy so the fight got pushed back to [February] 13th in California. I’m okay with that but the thing that pisses me off is the lack of communication. Coming off a fight with GGG, one of the top dogs in boxing, there’s no way I should’ve been inactive a year. I’m going on a year of inactivity. Especially with the performance I put on, I should’ve been back in September or October [2015].

Willie Monroe Jr. v Bryan Vera
Willie Monroe, Jr. (L) touches Bryan Vera (R) with the right hand in an ESPN bout he won by UD in 2015.

A LOT OF FIGHTERS SIGNED WITH AL HAYMON WHO FIGHT UNDER THE PBC ALWAYS SING HIS PRAISES, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT HE’S DOING WITH THE PBC AND WHAT OTHER COMPANIES ARE DOING?

Al is being honest and he’s allowing everybody to get paid. All of the fighters right now on PBC, these are guys that if it was up to HBO or Showtime, these are guys you wouldn’t see. They wouldn’t get paid. This is how it goes. The network gives the promoters a certain amount of money for fights. They give them a budget. Let’s just say somebody big like HBO. They’ll say, look, here’s $10,000,000, make your card, make the fights, and the money is none of our business. What you guys do between the fighters and yourself, is none of our business. Well, the promoters, if [HBO] gives them $10,000,000, the promoters will keep $5,000,000 and use the other $5,000,000 to make the card and pay the fighters.

[Al Haymon] knows the number that comes in, he knows how much the networks are paying, and he pays the fighters accordingly. Plus, he keeps the fighters busy. If you fight four times a year on NBC or CBS, you’re going to become a household name quicker than somebody who fights on HBO twice a year, because it’s free TV. They’re going to see you more, you’re getting paid, and you’re busier. Now the sponsorship deals open up. Everyone doesn’t have cable. If I can go on NBC and watch one of my favorite fighters and it’s gonna be 10 million viewers over maybe 1.2 on HBO, me as a company, I’m more willing to sponsor [On NBC or CBS] because I know 10 million people are gonna see it as opposed to 1.2 million.

It’s business, its numbers, and its dollars. But as long as the promoters can funnel the fighters and keep them paid the lowest amount of money, they can make fighters fight hard fights, pay them nothing, and the fighters can’t say no. They have this thing called the Muhammed Ali Act where fighters have the right to know what’s being made. But when you have managers and promoters working together, the fighter will never know. You can tell your manager I want the Muhammed Ali Act but . . . [The promoter] will divvy up some bullshit ass number . . . and there’s still another $2,000,000 somewhere hidden.

WOW! THAT’S DIRTY. YOU HAVE TO BE FRUSTRATED.

I’m giving you the real right now. It’s fucking sad. You got all of these trolls on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter who swear they know. These people have no clue. If you had a kid and you know your son or daughter can make $150,000 four times a year with Al Haymon, or make $150,000 twice a year fighting harder fights on HBO, where would you tell your kid to go? Think about that.

You know what I got paid on ESPN for Boxcino? First fight I got $10,000, second fight I got $15,000, third fight I got $20,000. Three hard fights. Not to mention I had to pay my team, so I didn’t walk away with $45,000 after that tournament. People don’t know. I’ll tell you stories that will make you straight cry, bro. You see people out here dying trying to put food on the table for their families and they can’t do it because of these greedy promoters. Every time I look around, one of these promoters, I won’t say any names, but they’re putting up a new condo they just bought. But the fighter is still somewhere in the hood struggling. Figure that.