INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Gennady Golovkin's latest big drama show had a few extra twists and turns. The middleweight champion still finished it with his usual show-stopping flourish.
Golovkin stopped Willie Monroe Jr. 45 seconds into the sixth round Saturday night, retaining the 160-pound belts with his 20th consecutive knockout victory.
Golovkin (33-0, 30 KOs) put on another masterful performance in his adopted home, knocking down Monroe twice in the second round and again in the sixth round of his 14th consecutive title defense.
The former Kazakh Olympian has stopped each of his 20 opponents since June 2008, and even a surprisingly strong fourth round from Monroe couldn't throw Golovkin off his path to the top.
"It was a good big drama show," Golovkin said. "I was happy with my performance. Willie is a very tough fighter. I felt very strong tonight. I knocked him down twice, but I didn't want an easy round the next round. I wanted to keep working."
When Golovkin floored Monroe (19-2) with a long series of heavy punches in the sixth, the challenger declined to continue after his final trip to the canvas.
"I'm done," Monroe told referee Jack Reiss.
Nicaragua's Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez also defended his WBC flyweight title in style at the historic Forum with a furious second-round stoppage of Mexican veteran Edgar Sosa.
But Golovkin delighted a Southern California crowd of 12,372 backing the Kazakh champion who has gone from anonymity to stardom in less than three years. Golovkin realized a southpaw counterpuncher with Monroe's pedigree would provide a new challenge while he waits for the world's best fighters to take him on, and Monroe proved to be tough and elusive while hitting Golovkin regularly.
Yet Golovkin still delivered for his large fan base in Southern California, where he now lives with his family.
After Monroe tagged the champion repeatedly in the fourth, Golovkin's trainer, Abel Sanchez, implored his fighter to "not show how tough we are. Let's start working."
So Golovkin went back to work and finished with force.
"I think Gennady wanted to give the fans a little more value for their money, because the Rubio fight only lasted two rounds," promoter Tom Loeffler said, referring to Golovkin's second-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Rubio in his California debut last fall.
After a solid first round, Golovkin backed Monroe against the ropes in the second and knocked him flat with a textbook-perfect left hook to the head. Monroe wobbled while getting up slowly, and Golovkin put him back down moments later with a big right hand.
Monroe made it to the bell and even recovered to land several big shots in the fourth round, but Golovkin buckled his knees again in the fifth. Golovkin finished the sixth in style, pursuing a ducking Monroe around the ring until finally landing the knockdown punches in the sixth.
Golovkin made the fight with Monroe when he couldn't entice bigger-name boxers into the ring, and he named names after the fight, calling out Miguel Cotto and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Golovkin intends to fight two more times this year, staying busy and growing his own reputation as one of the world's pound-for-pound best fighters.
Golovkin wants to win every middleweight belt, He is the WBC's interim 160-pound champion and the mandatory challenger for Cotto's permanent belt, but Cotto is fighting Daniel Geale in New York next month.
If Cotto beats Geale, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said he would sanction Cotto's much-rumored fight with Alvarez in the fall as long as the winner agrees in writing to fight Golovkin next.
Gonzalez (43-0, 37 KOs) seized the chance provided by his first showcase on HBO with a masterful performance against Sosa, a talented veteran contender. Chocolatito battered Sosa around the ring in the first round and dropped him three times in the second.
"I'm very happy with my performance," Gonzalez said. "He was a tough fighter, but my power was too much."
Throwing sharp combinations and showcasing power in both hands, Gonzalez floored Sosa (51-9) twice with brutal right hands before finishing him with a multi-punch barrage against the ropes with 23 seconds left in the second round.
Gonzalez already sits high on most pound-for-pound lists, but had never received such a broadcast showcase due to networks' traditional reluctance to feature lighter weight classes.
Golovkin wore trunks trimmed with Los Angeles Lakers colors in the Forum for the second boxing show since the Madison Square Garden Co. bought and refurbished the arena as a venue for concerts and fights.
The fans arrived early and packed the arena in a remarkable turnout for both Golovkin and Gonzalez, who is wildly popular in Southern California's expatriate Nicaraguan community.