Light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (22-0, 14 KOs) defended his WBC Continental Americas light heavyweight title in some style when he beat Elvir Muriqi (40-7, 24 KOs) by unanimous decision on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Irish American was fighting on the undercard of the WBO welterweight title fight between Russian Provodnikov and Chris Algieri.
However, the win came at a cost. In the ninth round Monaghan sustained a fracture of his orbital bone in a clash of heads with Muriqi and also sustained four cuts over the course of the final rounds.
"It's not as bad as it sounds. The doctor said I could start doing contact work in six weeks, but I will give it longer," Monaghan told the Irish Voice on Monday.
"In the ninth round we really started going at it, and then his head cracked me so hard."
Of the four cuts, three of them were around his eyes. The deepest lesion was on his temple.
Monaghan started very brightly, mixing up the body and headshots at Muriqi, who was put on the back foot from the start. The Long Beach, Long Island native told the Irish Voice last week that he felt stronger and sharper, and he certainly looked it. He showed better head movement in this fight, and his punch selection was more varied than in previous outings.
The 32-year-old’s dominance in the fight was highlighted at the end of the fourth round, when he dropped his opponent. Muriqi threw a one-two combination that Monaghan evaded before countering with a perfectly timed overhand right that floored Muriqi.
As the fight entered the later rounds, Monaghan was well ahead on the scorecards but Muriqi, to his credit, kept bringing the fight to the Irish American and was competitive in the rounds.
In the ninth, the pair got involved in the aforementioned brawl. Bleeding heavily, Monaghan finished the fight as he started, throwing flurries of punches and being busy until the end. When the judges’ scores were added up, Monaghan took the UD with tallies of 99-90, 99-90 and 98-91.
Though Monaghan will give himself plenty of time to heal, he knows that at 32 he has no time to waste. There was some speculation of a September fight with Jean Pascal, but the injuries sustained at the weekend put an end to that. The other option, if a deal can be done, is a possible title shot against WBA champion Juergen Braehmer from Germany.
"I feel I am ready to step up," said Monaghan, pointing to the fact that Muriqi’s last opponent Blake Caparello, who also defeated the Kosovo-born fighter by UD, is now taking on WBO champion Sergey Kovalev in his next fight.
"If I could get a shot at Braehmer, I would be all over that."
Earlier on the same card, super-bantamweight Heather Hardy (10-0, 2 KOs) defeated Jackie Trivilino (9-8-3, 1 KO) by split decision. The fight was stopped at the end of the seventh round as Hardy was unable to continue as the result of an accidental head-butt that took place in the second stanza. As the damage was done the fight went to the judges’ scorecards, and Hardy won the decision.
Trivilino came out with a game plan of swarming Hardy from the outset, walking her down and pressurizing her on the inside. Trivilino tagged Hardy on several occasions, and the Irish American seemed out of sorts in the early going.
Hardy was having trouble getting her shots off, and the damage from the head-butt became more apparent as the fight wore on as her right eye swelled up significantly and bled from the fifth round on.
“The first head-butts happened in the first and second round and really threw me off my game. She was charging in with her head. Though I don't believe intentional, it was still repeatedly happening,” Hardy told the Irish Voice.
“It took me a few rounds to settle in and by the end of the second/top of the third I found I was moving well and started making adjustments to her. She was wide, and my 1-2 shots were catching her up the middle easy.”
In the later rounds, Hardy came into the fight more as Trivilino tired a little. Hardy moved better and her left hook started to find a home. Though she fought on the back foot for a lot of the fight, she threw some effective scoring shots of her own.
“At the close of the seventh a last head-butt split my forehead. I was so upset because I found a nice groove and wanted to finish the fight, but the doctor told me I needed stitches immediately and could [not] afford another clash.”
After the doctor stopped the fight, the judges came back with the scores of 66-67, 67-66 and 68-65 in Hardy’s favor. The Irish American needed some 12 stitches after the fight, but she went on to say that the cuts are healing well and she was happy with the win.