LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT JOE SMITH JR. — Back in April 2008, Joe Smith Jr. defeated Seanie Monaghan in the final round of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves tournament at Madison Square Garden in the 178-pound novice division. So the two are not strangers, but that was then and this is now. And now the heavy-handed, highly-regarded light heavyweight Smith Jr, 27, is no longer a professional “prospect,” having earned his bona fides by waxing Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins in 2016 and becoming a true feel good story for boxing fans.
Like a submarine captain using a periscope, Team Smith (Jerry Capobianco and Joe DeGuardia) is now looking at many lucrative options and New Yorkers are hoping it zeros in on fellow New Yorker and fan favorite Seanie Monaghan, 35, lurking nearby and ready to step up to the challenge—and payday.
“Irish Seanie” (28-0) is an in-coming brawler with a crowd-pleasing style. What he lacks in technical skills, he makes up with power and strength. While he has some decent names on his resume including Matt Vanda, Joe McCready, Elvir Muriqi, Fulgencio Zuniga, and Donavan George, most if not all of his opponents were on the downside of their careers. In short, some might question whether Monaghan has really done enough to earn a shot against Smith.
Smith’s resume is far superior and his one defeat — a fluke to the very limited Eddie Caminero — was caused by a broken jaw.
A prophetic Joe DeGuardia said prior to the Fonfara mugging, “Joe has all of the tools to be a top light heavyweight…His power and strength, combined with boxing skills and stamina, has him earmarked for a big fight.”
Smith vs. Monaghan: The Reality
The specter of two highly rated Irish-Americans from the New York City area fighting one another is mouth watering to say the least.
Seanie has long been calling for a fight with one of the top names in the light heavyweight division—names like Stevenson, Kovalev, and Brahmer—but blames “boxing politics” as preventing his chances.
After a win against tough Queens light heavy Will Rosinsky in December 2015, Smith Jr reportedly called out Monaghan and Seanie stated his willingness to take up the challenge and meet his fellow Long Islander. But again that was then and this is now and more options loom for Smith.
If the win against Rosinsky opened new doors, the win against Fonfara removed Joe from anonymity and then the slaughter of Hopkins placed him squarely on center stage. Joe is no longer a “fight away from getting a big fight.” Who he fights next now turns on economics more than anything else, including “boxing politics.”
Maybe a fight with Monaghan might have been a sage move at the time, but the Fonfara mugging made a big splash on boxing’s broader landscape and the Hopkins massacre sealed the deal. Irish Seanie now needs Joe far more than Joe needs Seanie. Thing is, Smith’s life changed in a very big way in just 12 months and three fights; Seanie Monaghan’s life didn’t.
Like other savvy fighters, Joe wants to make the largest amount of money as fast as he can and then leave with his marbles intact. It’s not the easiest business model to follow, but Team Smith is smart and that means that WBC world light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1) is in their periscope’s sight for a title fight.
A cocky Stevenson says, “Everyone I fight they say he is a bum. I don’t want people telling me the same sh*t. I don’t want him telling me that this f***ing guy is a bum. He beat Hopkins but he’s a bum. I will go to New York. I got no problem going to New York.”
DeGuardia says, “What a great way to open up the (newly renovated) Nassau Coliseum by having one of Long Island’s own in Joe Smith, who’s coming off two sensational knockout victories, fighting for the championship of the world in his backyard and attempting to pull off the hat trick?… I love it. It’s a great, great fight. I think it would be an immediate sellout, with Joe’s union support and the fact that we developed him on Long Island as being a ticket seller. So it’s just perfect.”
Now that’s a fight in the New York City area that has broad appeal and would make money sense!
Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records in the Grand Master class. A member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he enjoys writing about boxing.
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