Light heavyweight contender “Irish” Seanie Monaghan is looking for something bigger.
The Long Beach native picked up the 20th win of his career after a first-round TKO of Matt Vanda on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t the kind of challenge Monaghan (20-0) was looking for as Vanda pulled out of the fight because of a biceps injury.
Monaghan’s hope is that the manner of victory doesn’t halt his progress. Vanda was the third choice for Monaghan, as the first two opponents, Fabio Garrido and Aaron Pryor Jr., were unavailable.
Garrido, a Brazilian, couldn’t get a visa in time and Pryor, who initially accepted an offer to fight Monaghan, backed out. But Monaghan, who is intent on fighting for a title in the near future, wasn’t too impressed with Pryor or Vanda.
“I wanted someone even bigger than Pryor to be honest. I’m No. 6 in the IBF rankings,” said Monaghan. “I’ve seen the other five guys who are ranked ahead of me and I’d beat any one of them. I’m hoping to get myself in the IBF eliminator.”
Monaghan would like to fight IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, but due to a promotional rift, it’s a goal that may not be within his reach.
Said Monaghan: “I just hope that me being signed with Top Rank and Bernard Hopkins being with Golden Boy isn’t a road block, because I would love for that fight to happen.”
Monaghan mentioned WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, WBA champ Beibut Shumenov, Sergey Kovalev, who holds the WBO belt as possible suitors.
“Sergey Kovalev is smoking everyone right now,” said Monaghan, who’s ranked 10th in the WBA and 12th in the WBC. “But I think if you take him into deep water it would be a different story.”
Part of Monaghan’s motivation comes from a friend in boxing Darnell Boone.
Said Monaghan: “I know they’re making all these guys out to be Godzilla, Adonis Stevenson and Kovalev, but I got a good confidence boost from a friend of mine Darnell Boone. He fought all of these guys. He knocked Stevenson out. He dropped Kovalev three times and got a split-decision loss.”
He wrote me and said I see how high you’re ranked. Don’t be scared if anyone of these guys. Stevenson is nothing special, he’s strong with his left hand and that’s it. And Kovalev can’t take a shot. Don’t be too worried about them.”
Monaghan, 32, has come a long way since turning pro in 2010. He credits trainer Joe Higgins and the Freeport PAL for helping him rise in the rankings. Higgins also has Freeport’s promising junior middleweight Patrick Day (5-0), who’s fighting on Jan. 31, on his roster.
“Joe’s got a great program and its really starting to take flight,” Monaghan said. “Joe’s a well-known guy in the amateurs. He was president of New York Metro boxing…He’s getting calls all the time from guys wanting him to train them.”
Monaghan’s transformation into a contender has everyone watching him.
“I see kids watching me. When I spar the whole gym stops and watches me. I see little kids trying to do moves I do. It’s cool because I remember coming up in Joe’s gym and there were a couple of old time pros and I would watch them and think it was the coolest thing in the world.”
Monaghan doesn’t have an amateur career to speak of, but he’s satisfied with where he is now.
“I would have liked to have won the Golden Gloves,” he said. “But my main goal was to be a world champion as a professional.”