There is not a lot to get excited about in Long Beach these day. 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 has become one of New York's best ticket sellers and hundreds of Long Beach residents supported him again Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall. Monaghan (18-0, 11 KOs) knocked out Dion Stanley in the first round in the semifinal to the Nonito Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux junior featherweight unification fight.
Monaghan wore a kelly green hoodie with the Long Beach Polar Plunge scripted on the back. and was accompanied to the ring by the sound of 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 waived the bout off at 1:50 of the round.
"This is six months later and my town is still wrecked," Monaghan said, referring to the storm. "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.
It's because of his ability to draw a crowd -- and entertain that crowd -- that Monaghan keeps appearing on high-profile cards.
"I love him," HBO commentator Harold Lederman said. "He's never in a bad fight. He sells a million tickets. Half the Irishmen of Long Island come to see him. It's a great atmosphere."
That atmosphere filled Radio City Saturday night.
"People tell me that going to my fights is like going to 5 years worth of Long Beach high school reunions," said Monaghan after the fight. "That's how many Long Beach people you run into. Tonight was a great night. Everyone is happy. And tomorrow it's back to reality."
"Reality is, a lot of people still waiting for insurance checks," he said. "A lot of people still waiting to get back into their homes. But that can wait until tomorrow. I don't want to ruin tonight."