Light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (16-0, 10 KOs) returns to action this Saturday night at the Theater in MSG when he takes on Roger Cantrell (15-2, 8 KOs) in a contest scheduled for eight rounds.
The Long Beach, Long Island native is fighting on the undercard of a triple-header of world title fights to be televised on HBO, headlined by the featherweight clash between Mikey Garcia and Orlando Salido. The 31-year-old Irish American will be fighting on the non-televised part of the promotion.
Monaghan was last in action on October 24 when he defeated Rayco Saunders (who lost to Cantrell in 2009) by unanimous decision at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City to defend his WBC Continental America belt. That title is not on the line in this fight.
Cantrell, whose moniker is “Never Can Tell,” is a 26-year-old out of Seattle and has been a professional since 2005.
He is coming off close to a three-year hiatus from the ring, and the biggest name on his fighting résumé is a 2007 fifth round TKO defeat to Andre Ward, who is now one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Shortly after Monaghan’s last win, superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, and Long Beach was one of the worst hit areas.
"My house got wrecked and my car got wrecked. I took my son and wife to Puerto Rico (where Monaghan has family and friends) for two weeks after it hit,” Monaghan says.
“It got very cold after the storm, and it was no place for a 20-month-old baby. Once the power came back on we came back."
Rebuilding will be tough, but Monaghan and his family are well-equipped to undertake the project.
"We are all construction guys. I am a bricklayer and my brother is a carpenter and we will be able to do it all ourselves, but there is a hold up with the insurance money. We’ll be all right and we will get back to normal,” he says.
Monaghan's gym at the Freeport PAL was also impacted and has been without power since the superstorm. Nonetheless, Monaghan has worked hard for his fight there with trainer Joe Higgins, using portable heaters to try and warm the place.
The fighter admits that the conditions have not been ideal, and that he and his sparring partners and the entire team have had to "bundle up" before training.
The environment has not made it easy to sweat and drop weight, and Monaghan has had to diet carefully for this fight, which will be fought at a catchweight of 178 pounds.
Despite all the obstacles, it was hugely important for Monaghan to lace up the gloves this weekend.
"I didn't want to make the hurricane keep me out of the ring and I decide that I needed to get right back to action," he said, adding that the process of training camp and fight preparation was one of the few things that helped restore some semblance of normalcy to his life.
As always, Monaghan can expect a strong showing of support from his legion of fans. The fighter explained that his allocation of tickets has sold far earlier than normal for this assignment.
“Since the storm, 90 percent of the bars in the West End (in Long Beach) are closed and people are dying for a night out, and this is a good chance for them to go out and enjoy themselves,” he says.
Monaghan says that it took some time to finalize an opponent, but since Cantrell came on board he has done much of his sparring with fellow New York light heavyweight Joe Smith to prepare for the challenge. The question is, does Cantrell have any chance of spoiling the party?
"I am expecting this guy to come and fight the fight of his life,” said Monaghan. “He was supposed to be a decent amateur and he has two losses against good guys -- Andre Ward and a Polish guy -- but he has not been in action for a while,” Monaghan says.
Monaghan is ready to get back in the ring this weekend after a very tough period outside the squared circle. He is hoping that a strong performance and win will get the New Year off to a good start and help him increase his profile further.
Tickets for the fight are available from the Saloon in Long Beach (516-432-9185) and Murphy's Law in Manhattan (212-628-3724).