Square Garden this Saturday night in a contest scheduled for 10 rounds on the non-televised undercard of the Mickey Garcia/Juan Carlos Burgos world title main event.
“He [Vanda] has been in with some of the best middleweights, and he recently moved up to super middleweight, but I am a big, strong light heavyweight, and that is going to show,” Monaghan told the Irish Voice on Saturday.
Monaghan’s preparations for this assignment were somewhat hampered by the fact that he did not know who he was going to fight until relatively late in his camp. Before Vanda was confirmed, the 32-year-old was sparring southpaws, tall and small fighters to cover his bases.
“My original opponent, Fabio Garrido, could not get a visa, and I have a list of top light heavyweight guys who turned me down before Vanda stepped up to the plate,” added the Long Beach, Long Island native.
Once the Minnesotan signed on the dotted line, Monaghan did most of his sparring with Ukrainian Ievgen Khytrov and middleweight contender Curtis Stevens, who is small and stocky, much in the vein of Monaghan’s opponent.
Another former middleweight contender who knows a thing or two about Vanda is John Duddy, who fought and defeated Vanda by unanimous decision in 2009. Monaghan said Duddy gave him a little advice recently on social media, telling the Irish American to stay focused and not take his 35-year-old opponent lightly.
Vanda has 60 fights on his ledger, and he has campaigned mostly in the 160-pound division. He made his pro debut in 1996 and some of the biggest fights on his resume include two defeats to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and losses to Duddy, Peter Manfredo Jr., Anthony Bonsante and Marco Antonio Rubio. While he won’t be intimidated by Monaghan, the size and strength of the Irish American will be a big challenge for him.
The weather did not help Monaghan’s preparations, but no matter how cold it got he was still outdoors to get his roadwork completed.
“Even in eight degrees I was out there. We got the work done, but it was a lot more miserable,” said Monaghan, who joked that trainer Joe Higgins wanted to make conditions as hard as possible to ensure his man will be ready for the first bell. “I think that he wanted me to suffer, to get me a little pissed off.”
Monaghan went on to say that if he wins this weekend he could be line for an IBF world title eliminator fight later in the year. While he is not taking Vanda lightly, he added that he now feels that he is ready to fight any of the top fighters in the division.
Monaghan has sold out his allocation of tickets and expects another good turnout from his legions of fans this weekend. Remaining tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com and www.madisonsquaregarden.com.
Little known tale of generous Turkish aid to the Irish during the Great Hunger