Boxing 101 followed up with WBC Continental Americas light heavyweight champion Irish Seanie Monaghan in the days following his unanimous decision victory over Roger Cantrell this past Saturday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater on the undercard of the main event between Mikey Garcia and WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido.
The popular Long Beach, New York fighter kept his undefeated streak alive at 17-0 (10 KO's) with a hard fought eight-round battle with Cantrell (15-3, 8 KO's). Unlike Monaghan who has averaged roughly five fights per year since turning pro in 2010, this marked the first fight for Cantrell in almost three years. He was, nevertheless, expected to be durable having lost to the likes of Andre Ward and Andrzej Fonfara.
Cantrell's inactivity was evident at the weigh-in, tipping the scales for this non-title light heavyweight bout at 184.5 compared to Monaghan's 177.5. Although he could have backed out of the fight with his full purse, Monaghan opted to forge ahead as planned in front of his devoted fan base. Typically preferring to adjust to the flow of a fight rather than establishing a game plan, Monaghan devised a strategy based on the circumstances and suspicion that his overweight opponent might not have the stamina to go the full eight rounds.
"At first I was thinking, maybe I'll just jump right on him and just try to wear him right out and see what's he's got. Then I said to myself, let me just sit back for a minute and let him wear himself out and then start to come on in the later rounds which is what I ended up doing," the 31-year old Monaghan said.
Although soft around the midsection and slow with his punch delivery, Cantrell did not wear himself out and remained engaged throughout the fight. He took all of Monaghan's best shots while landing many of his own single clubbing right hands. Both men showed the effects of the spirited slugfest with Monaghan suffering a cut over the left eyebrow, a blackened right eye and an injured right hand, while Cantrell sported a grape-sized mouse under his left eye with both eyes puffy from the punishment he absorbed.
"I was catching him with shots that have knocked other guys out cold and it was just hurting my hand. It wasn't even hurting him," Monaghan said of his tough opponent. "I caught him with a nice clean shot right in his head and it just bounced right off of him. He's a big, tough guy."
In the week leading up to this fight, Monaghan told Boxing 101 that he was working on becoming a more complete fighter rather than a one dimensional brawler. This was evident on Saturday night. He displayed patience and was varied in his punch selection, throwing an effective left jab, powerful left hooks, strong right hands and uppercuts. There was a sense that he would eventually get his man out of there but Cantrell did not oblige the popular local fighter.
"I'm kind of getting used to hitting guys with my good shot and then they go down. I was hitting this guy with big, big power shots and then he was just hitting me right back," observed a somewhat surprised Monaghan.
"It was a learning lesson on getting back to basics. Stick and move, hit a guy and then move. I can't just expect to hit him with a big shot and he's going to fall down."
Monaghan's conditioning and will to win helped him to overcome these various obstacles and get the unanimous decision victory with scores of 79-73, 78-74 and 77-75.
"It's good experience. I was fighting a very big, strong guy in front of a lot of my fans at Madison Square Garden and we had an unbelievable turnout. There was a lot of pressure there and I handled it. I was in a tough spot, I had to dig down deep and it's going to make me a better fighter in the future," Monaghan proudly stated.
If a St. Patrick's Day return is not possible due to venue unavailability, this Irishman's fighting future is targeted to resume in late March/early April.
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