“Getting to this level was our goal, and everything was a steppingstone to get here — he had to take on some tough opponents,” Kavanagh said. “This fight is a huge steppingstone for him. After this fight, he’s right there for a world title shot. This is the most important fight Seanie has ever had.”
Representing Long Beach
Saturday’s fight comes nearly a year after Monaghan was forced to evacuate from Long Beach with his wife, Beverly, and son, Sammy, when Hurricane Sandy hit.
“This time last year, I had to leave and go to Puerto Rico because I had a 1-year-old son and it was 20 degrees outside and there was no heat or running water,” he said. “When I came back to Long Beach, everything looked even worse — everyone had thrown all their garbage out at the time and there was garbage piled sky-high.”
Like many residents, his home was damaged, and he worked alongside his friends and neighbors to help gut and rebuild their homes. He said that the storm has only strengthened his resolve in the ring.
“My whole world was flipped upside down,” he said, “and hopefully me being out there, in the ring on a world stage, it will bring some kind of awareness to it.”
Hundreds of “Team Monaghan” supporters from Long Beach will be in Vegas to cheer him on, including his close friend Cliff Skudin. “He has the heart and determination to be a world champion,” Skudin said, adding that Monaghan’s fights have helped galvanize the community since the storm. “Seanie is bringing the community together, which is very special. He shows that anything can be accomplished in life if you put your mind to it.”
Higgins echoed those sentiments, saying that the younger boxers at the PAL consider Monaghan a role model.
“He’s hungry, and he wants it,” Higgins said. “Seanie is the ultimate example to all his gym mates. Even the Junior Olympians in here look up to him as a big brother.”
Before every fight, Monaghan paces the ring as the announcer introduces him to the crowd, and he taps his chest twice, above a tattoo bearing Calabrese’s name. “We all miss Bobby, and we’ll never forget him,” he said. “I did all the work I need to do, and I’m ready to look impressive.”