Light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (17-0, 10 KOs) defeated Roger Cantrell (15-3, 8 KOs) by unanimous decision at the Theater in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

Though the fight was meant to be at a contract weight of 178 pounds, Cantrell hit the scales on Friday at a hefty 184.5 pounds and enjoyed a significant weight advantage at the first bell. The Washington native’s conditioning was poor, but the weight discrepancy almost called a halt to the fight.

“We were a little disappointed (with Cantrell being overweight), but we had sold 1,000 tickets and it was too late not to take the fight,” Monaghan told the Irish Voice on Monday.

“It would have hurt my ticket sales for the next fight, but most importantly, I had family over from Ireland and I did not want to send them home without seeing me fight.”

The weight advantage was such that Cantrell forfeited half of his purse to Monaghan, and the sheer advantage in size meant the Long Beach man had be vigilant throughout the fight.

After a quiet first three minutes, Monaghan was more active in the second round and his right hand and left hook were accurate.  He had faster hand speed than Cantrell, but Monaghan had to be wary of his heavier opponent who threw decent combinations of his own.

The night didn’t get any easier for Monaghan when he hurt his right hand in the second stanza.

“I caught him with a nice clean punch to the forehead and I felt it (the arm),” said the 31-year-old, adding that he was able to complete the fight but has been in some discomfort since.

Cantrell’s best moments came in the third round when, as Monaghan described it, “he came out like a bull,” and started to connect with some combinations, tagging Monaghan with a right hand that opened up a cut on the left eye.

Monaghan came back strong in the next round and again started to connect with the left hook.  The fight was now escalating into a real brawl and both men had a great exchange at the end of the round that had the crowd on its feet.

In the sixth, Cantrell started to wane and was breathing heavily out of the mouth.  A great left hand to the body from Monaghan hurt his opponent and set up a dominant round for the Irish American. Both men were now badly marked up and showing the signs of battle. 

The last two rounds were close fought, but as was the case during most of the night, Monaghan out-worked Cantrell to keep the fight in his favor.

At the end of the fight the bloodied combatants embraced and judges Kevin Morgan, John Pasquale and Alan Rubenstein scored the fight in favor of Monaghan 77-75, 78-74 and 79-73 respectively.

“I wasn’t thrilled with my performance straight away after the fight. I wanted the knockout,” explained Monaghan. 

“I thought I could have fought a smarter fight and I brawled a bit. But when I looked at the tape I saw that I actually boxed pretty well. It was a great, exciting fight.

“I was winning the rounds but he hung in there. He was out of shape, but he was a very decent fighter in his day.”

Monaghan needed 10 stitches for the cut he sustained in the third round, but he went on to say that outside the lesion and the sore hand he was in good health.

Though he has now appeared on several Top Rank shows, Monaghan is still a free agent.  “They (any prospective promoters) have to come and show it.  I am now 17-0 and I want to move up,” he said.

Monaghan plans to take a week off and, arm permitting, he will then head back to the gym to stay in shape.

In other news, light welterweight Danny O’Connor (19-1, 7 KOs) will fight Derek Silveira (8-0, 4 KOs) at the TD Garden in Boston this Saturday night in a contest scheduled for 10 rounds, while middleweight Andy Lee is back in action on February 9 in Belfast when he fights Dubliner Anthony Fitzgerald (13-3) on the undercard of the Carl Frampton/Kiko Martinez fight.

Seanie Monaghan