Sean Monaghan: ‘I know I’m going into enemy territory’
Special contributor Peter Clarke shares his one-on-one with undefeated light heavyweight contender Sean Monaghan, ahead of tonight’s bout against Marcus Browne (PBC on FOX, 9:00 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT)
Recently, I had the chance to sit down with light heavyweight contender Seanie Monaghan, 28-0 (17). He was preparing for his fight tonight against Marcus Browne, 19-0 (14), in what might lead to a title shot for the winner. The fight will take place at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, and will be televised on FOX as the co-main event to the Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. Robert Guerrero welterweight bout. In the interview, Monaghan opens up about his “almost” fight with WBC titlist Adonis Stevenson, the entire light heavyweight division and his free agent promotional status.
Monaghan, at one point, was told he was going to be fighting Adonis Stevenson. That is where the interview began:
Peter Clarke: What happened to the Adonis Stevenson fight?
Sean Monaghan: I wish I knew. I thought it was all a done deal. We never got any official notice that it was over. I found out it was off on Instagram. I got a text message from my sister saying, “What is this?” It was a picture of Adonis’ Instagram saying he was fighting (Andrzej) Fonfara again.
I kind of started getting suspicious of it because I asked, “Are we going to have a press conference? When are we going to officially say anything?” No one ever said sorry or gave us an official reason why. We signed contracts and everything.
PC: Who is the best light heavyweight in the world, in your mind?
SM: You got to give it to (unified light heavyweight champion) Andre Ward now. I know they were borderline low blows (in their fight) but he stopped (Sergey) Kovalev. I think if Andre would have kept those shots an inch or two higher, they would have done the same damage and there would be no controversy. He hurt Kovalev with a right hand and, every time he touched him to the body, he was hurting him.
At the time of the stoppage, I had Kovalev ahead but you could tell the whole momentum had shifted and he just looked like he didn’t want to be in there anymore. Ward looked like he was just getting started.
I got a call to fight Andre Ward about a year or two ago and I was so happy. I said, “Let’s do it,” and he just negotiates like a beast on every single little thing. The fight was in four or five weeks, in Oakland, and it wasn’t a bunch of money. I said, “Maybe they are playing hardball,” so I didn’t take the first offer. I said, “Let’s go,” back and forth and my manager said, “That’s it. That’s the only offer they have.”
Monaghan said camp is going great right now. He was weighing 183 pounds, as of last weekend, and he said that if he woke up at 179 or 180 for morning of the weigh-in for this fight at 175, he could easily work out and sweat it off. However, Monaghan usually is a fighter who fights often. He has only fought once in the last 16 months, which led to my next question.
PC: You’re used to fighting three, four, five times a year. You’ve fought once since Janne Forsman in February of 2016. Will that have any effect on your sharpness?
SM: I’m glad I got that last fight in (versus Fernando Castaneda last December) and it was a lackluster fight for me but I’m glad I got that 10 rounds in. It was a long break.
PC: Do you go into this bout thinking you need to stop Browne?
SM: I know I’m going into enemy territory. He’s with Al Haymon. I didn’t think he won the “Hot Rod” (Radivoje Kalajdzic) fight and I thought he should have been disqualified the fight after that, when he hit (Thomas Williams Jr.) when he was down. What I really want is to be a crowd-pleaser. I want people to say, 20 years down the road, “Man that was a great fight.” I don’t want a fight when you’re getting held every 10 secs and the ref does nothing about it. He got warned about 20 times in the Hot Rod fight for holding and it kind of ruined the fight. The fight can get ugly with him.
In the talk about bad decisions, it led to Monaghan’s thoughts on the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao fight, July 1, on ESPN.
SM: That was actually cool. It looked sick. It was an outdoor fight. It was in Australia. I thought it was a good fight. I had it 7-5 Pacquiao. They were yelling, “It’s the biggest robbery of all time!” Timothy Bradley was the only one that said it: This fight was closer than you think. I thought Jeff Horn was doing his thing.
Obviously, he’s not going to match Pacquiao for speed or ability but he’s a big, strong, rough, Australian guy. So, he’s in there and doing what he’s got to do. I think he did the best he could possibly do with his ability. Now the judge that had him winning nine rounds (Waleska Roldan), I don’t agree with that but I thought it was close. I didn’t know what the announcers were looking at.
PC: Since Browne is probably your toughest opponent, what are some of the things that you must be extra aware of?
SM: He’s fast. He’s a defense-first guy. He hits pretty hard but I’ve been hit harder. He’s going to try to be a tree that I got to chop down.
PC: Does it get frustrating that the guys at the top of the division always pass you over?
SM: It’s super-frustrating. It’s been more than Stevenson and Ward.
Monaghan then went on to explain that he almost got a shot with Juergen Braehmer, who was the WBA champion, at the time, but Braehmer opted to face Eduard Gutknecht. Monaghan also missed out on Beibut Shumenov, who was also a WBA champion but Shumenov took a fight against Bernard Hopkins instead, lost and the title was then in Golden Boy Promotions’ hands. With the bitterness between promotional companies, Monaghan knew his chances were done.
Monaghan left Top Rank at the end of 2016 on good terms. They said they would welcome him back. As soon as he became a free agent, calls were rolling in, including one that asked if he wanted a shot at Adonis Stevenson. He does not have Al Haymon as a manager or adviser. He is currently working on a multi-fight deal with promoter Lou DiBella. Part of the deal with DiBella is that he will not have to wait longer than six-months for a fight.
Monaghan also said, “Lou said the winner of this is going to get a shot at a world title. Since he’s linked with Al Haymon, I’m assuming that means Stevenson but he’s got a couple of options right now. He’s got to fight Alvarez, at some point. If Ward moves to cruiserweight, like he said, and vacates, that would mean there are three vacant belts around and I’d have to assume I’d be in line for one of those belts after beating Marcus Browne and moving to 29-0.”
Monaghan still hopes to get a fight against Joe Smith Jr, saying, “It makes too much sense. Too many people in the media and on TV have told me that fight makes sense.” HBO has so far declined to pay for that fight.
PC: You’re 35, almost 36. Do you pan to be fighting into your 40s?
SM: Nah, hell no. I hope not. I’d like to retire before 2020, ’cause it just sounds late. I don’t want to be in there at 40 years old. But I’m out there running sprints with guys in their 20s. I go through multiple young guys in sparring. No kid is going to beat me in a fight.
Monaghan and Browne are actually cordial with one another and sparred numerous times. Browne even sent a congratulations text to Monaghan when it was thought that Monaghan was getting the Stevenson fight. However, Monaghan said the two aren’t on speaking terms now. With what could be a title shot up next, the first for both men, there are no friends on Saturday night and to the victor go the spoils. Enjoy the fight.