There is not a lot to get excited about in Long Beach these days. Many residents are still displaced. The economically important summer season is quickly approaching and the boardwalk is still out of commission, courtesy of superstorm Sandy.
But there's always Seanie Monaghan.
Monaghan, 17-0 and ranked 15th in the world by the IBF as a light heavyweight, has become one of New York's best ticket sellers. Hundreds of Long Beach residents supported him again Saturday night, this time at Radio City Music Hall, where Monaghan fought Dion Stanley in the semifinal to the Nonito Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux junior featherweight unification fight.
Monaghan wore a kelly green hoodie with the Long Beach Polar Blunge scripted on the back. and was accompanied to the ring by bagpipes. His legion of fans stood and cheered wildly during the ring-walk. Chants of "Seanie, Seanie, Seanie," filled the room midway through the first round and then, suddenly, an overhand right dropped Stanley in the corner. Stanley stumbled as he got to his feet and the referee immediately waived the bout off at 1:50 of the round.
"This is six months later and my town is still wrecked," Monaghan said. "If you walk through the west end of Long Beach, a lot of people aren't back in their homes yet."
There are two reasons his fans are so loyal. He brawls a lot more than he boxes. And he too was displaced from his home. He has lived with the frustration of dealing with insurance companies and FEMA paperwork.
"I grew up with Sean," said John Sanfilippo, who came to Radio City with a large group of Long Beach residents. "He's one of us. The city is still reeling. We could all use a little boost. Sean will give that to us tonight."
It's because of his ability to draw a crowd -- and entertain that crowd -- that Monaghan keeps appearing on high-profile cards.