It’s been a long time since there has been an Irish connection to the World Light-Heavyweight title. You have to go back 75 years when Irish American Billy Conn gave Gus Lesnevich a rematch on June 5, 1940 in Detroit. Conn won by a fifteen-round unanimous decision. It would be his last defence before he dipped his toes into the heavyweight division and went onto give the mighty Joe Louis a 25lb concession and the fright of his life in June 1941.
Looking to bridge that gap is “Irish” Sean Monaghan. He has high hopes that his chance against the elite in the division is on the radar. Ranked in the top 10 by all 4 world governing bodies, his rise to leading contender has been remarkable considering he only first laced up the gloves at the age of 26!
Irish Boxing .Com caught up with Sean to find out more about his Irish roots, his late start into boxing and where the Sean Monaghan journey is destined.
Dermot Bolger asked the questions.
Your Irish connections are quite strong, where do your Irish roots originate ?
My family is mostly from Navan in Meath, my parents came to NY in 1981 when my mother was pregnant with me.
Is there any boxing history in the family ?
Not really but I grew up hearing stories of my father and uncles getting into street fights.
You were a late arrival into the boxing game at 26 years old, how so ?
I wasted a lot of time doing the wrong things, the drinking and partying I was doing on weekends gradually became an almost everyday thing. It was only after I got arrested at age 20 that I finally cleaned up my act and stepped foot in a boxing gym.
After only 15 / 16 amateur fights, you took the leap in the professional game, what encouraged you to take this step ?
The plan was always to be a pro, I wanted to win the golden gloves really bad but I lost in the finals at MSG, the close losses due to the amateur scoring system kinda took the wind out of my sails and I also needed to start getting paid! I was too old to be fighting for free
Starting out in the pro game, what were your goals and hopes ?
I was very very raw in the beginning but right away I took a liking to it! I knew that with those little gloves and no headgear that I could hurt anyone I fought. It was almost more like a street fight than an amateur boxing match, the punches meant a lot more! I told myself after my first pro fight that I would be a champion
You have been described as an “old style, crowd pleasing” fighter – is pleasing the fans something you set out to do in your fights ?
Absolutely, that’s always in the back of my mind. At the end of the day, fans watch boxing to be entertained, so it’s my job to put on the best show possible when I’m in there. Put on fights people will be talking about for years to come.
Fighting at the famous MSG must be a dream come true for any New York boxer ?
I love MSG, I’ve been Extremely fortunate to have fought there so many times, I’ve been in the theatre 6 times and once in the big garden. That’s my backyard, I feel very comfortable when I fight there.
Irish fans would love to see you in action over here. You have been televised a few times by Sky Sports, any chance of seeing you on this side of the Atlantic ?
Even though I’m 25 and 0 already, these are still the early stages of my career. I plan on being around for a while and putting on great fights for the fans on sky sports, HBO and all around the world. There are a few upcoming light heavies from Ireland and England that are looking good and hopefully we can put on a good show one day.
You have now defended your WBC Cont Americas title on a number of occasions, are you ready now to move on to the next level ?
100% I’m more than ready. I’m confident that my next fight will be against a top level fighter, it’s time. It’s a little difficult to make a match, especially because my promoter Top Rank doesn’t have another top light heavyweight in their stable to match me against, so any big name I fight would have to be a joint-promotion, which can be tricky but like I said I’m confident big things are on the way.
You are ranked in the top 10 with all four world governing bodies, have you any preferences as to who you want ?
Not really, the light heavyweight division is becoming one of the most exciting and most dangerous, so there are a lot of great matchups for me, I’ll take any one.
The light-heavyweight division is red hot right now with Kovalev, Stevenson, Braehemer, etc- how do you rate the current title holders ?
Kovalev to me is the man to beat. Stevenson has a great left hand but that’s about it. As for Braehmer, he’s one tough opponent away from losing that title. We really tried to make that match, politically there’s nothing blocking us but he wasn’t interested. Stevenson, Beterbiev and Fonfara are with Haymon, which for me being with Top Rank would be Very difficult to make those fights happen. Kovalev could be a possibility after he deals with his mandatory Mohammedi, which should be no problem. I would love to fight Kovalev and I’m 100% open to it.
It’s been 75 years since an Irish-American held the World Light-Heavyweight title (Billy Conn 1940) – what would it mean to Sean Monaghan to bridge that gap ?
It’s long over due, it would really be an honor for me to represent my Irish/American brothers and sisters! I’m working as hard as I possibly can and my day will come