Call it the “Battle of the Islands,” pitting undefeated light heavyweights Marcus Browne of Staten Island against Sean Monaghan from Long Island on July 15 in the first boxing card held at newly renovated Nassau Coliseum in 31 years.
The light heavyweight clash technically is a co-feature with a junior middleweight matchup between Omar Figueroa (26-0-1, 18 KOs) and Roberto Guerrero (35-5-1, 18 KOs), which will be the main event on the Fox Sports national telecast. But neither attended Tuesday’s formal news conference to announce the card, and the focus was squarely on former Olympian Browne (19-0, 14 KOs) and Monaghan (28-0, 17 KOs), who grew up in Long Beach.
The card also includes a matchup of Polish heavyweights Artur Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) and Adam Kownacki (15-0, 12 KOs), who trains in Bellmore. Promoter Lou DiBella said, “You’re going to see consistent, unbelievable action. All three [Fox Sports] fights are wars.”
Neither Browne nor Monaghan was especially anxious to fight the other because they are friends who came up together through the local junior ranks and often have sparred in the past 10 years. But that’s the nature of the boxing business and Browne and Monaghan each made it clear they have adjusted to the situation. The winner likely will position themselves as a challenger to WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.
“The buddy-buddy talk is out the window,” Browne said. “This is a fight. We both have kids to feed. I have a destiny that is already written, and Seanie is in the way of that . . . Come July 15, there’s no friends. This is the ‘Battle of the Islands,’ and I’m going to win. Sorry, Long Island.”
Monaghan trained five weeks for what he thought was a date with Stevenson. When it fell through, he admitted he at first didn’t want to fight Browne. “But I said, for the amount of money they’re offering and the opportunities that are going to come after, we have to do it,” Monaghan explained. “It’s really nothing personal. It’s just business.”
Browne recalled how he and Monaghan both won New York Golden Gloves titles on the same night, and Monaghan calculated that the two of them probably have sparred around 100 rounds in the past 10 years. Despite their respect for each other, it might become personal in a hurry.
Asked if he thought the fight would go the scheduled 12 rounds, Browne said, “No way at all. No way, no way. I’m working too hard right now, and I’m already ready. Come July 15, it’s going to be even worse for him.”
Questioned about his role as the underdog, Monaghan bristled and said, “I don’t care what nobody says about ‘underdog.’ Nobody knows [squat]. He might be a better boxer than me, but he’s not a better fighter than me. And nobody wants this more than I want it. He can be slick and he can do all that stuff, but I’m taking this win.”
Monaghan expects Browne, who is a southpaw with a good defensive style, to start fast and then fade. “He’s a tricky guy,” Monaghan said. “He’s fast, and he’s not easy to hit. But after a couple of rounds, he becomes easier to hit. With the pressure I’m going to put on him, anybody would fade.”
When this card was in the planning stages, Monaghan was hopeful he might get a chance to avenge his Golden Gloves loss to Mastic native Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 19 KOs), but now Smith is fighting Sullivan Barrera the same night at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
“That would be the dream come true,” Monaghan said. “If these promoters had any sense, they would do it. I know Lou was trying to make that fight. I guess it just wasn’t the right timing for Joe DeGuardia [Smith’s promoter].
“I’m pretty sure Joe Smith would take the fight. Me and Joe Smith would fight in that parking lot for $5 right now.”