Unbeaten Monaghan ready to defend title

Many good 32-year-old boxers have had the experience of fighting in Las Vegas. But Sean Monaghan got a late start as a professional, and the light heavyweight from Long Beach, N.Y., finally is getting his chance to show his goods in the fight capital of the world.

Monaghan (18-0, 11 knockouts) defends his WBC Continental Americas belt Saturday at the Thomas &Mack Center against Anthony Smith on the undercard of the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez world welterweight title fight. It’s an opportunity Monaghan hopes will lead to even bigger and better things.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” said Monaghan, who never has fought outside the New York area since turning pro in 2010. “It’s my first world-wide fight, and I stepped up my sparring to make sure I am totally prepared.”

Monaghan’s fight with the 28-year-old Smith (14-1, 10 KOs) will be part of the HBO Pay Per View telecast. Monaghan already has gained a degree of celebrity through his appearances on the NBC Sports Network. He is an action fighter who likes to stay busy each round, and while his inexperience sometimes leaves him open to taking unnecessary punches, Monaghan is willing to stand in and trade with his opponents, thus making him popular with the fans.

“I fight the way I would want to see someone fight if I were a fan,” he said. “I was in a lot of street fights as a kid, so I’m naturally aggressive.”

He’s also a survivor. When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast last October, Long Beach took a huge hit. Monaghan’s home was severely damaged, as were those of his family and a lot of his friends, several who serve as policemen and firemen.

“We had no heat, no water, nothing,” Monaghan said. “We went to Puerto Rico to get away. And when we came back, I got involved with the rebuilding. I helped hands-on tearing down people’s houses, not just my own. I helped with the fundraisers in the area, and it was a good feeling to be able to use my celebrity for some good.

“I know I’m not just fighting for me; I’m fighting for my family, for my neighbors, for my town and for all the people. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, so I want to come to Vegas and put on a good show and keep my belt.”

■ FREE SHOW FRIDAY — Friday’s Top Rank card at the Thomas &Mack, which features Las Vegas welterweight Jessie Vargas (22-0, nine KOs) and Las Vegas super bantamweight Jessie Magdaleno (16-0, 12 KOs), will offer free admission to all fans.

To get in, go to the Thomas &Mack box office and receive a free ticket. Doors open at 6 p.m., and first bell for the card is at 7. The card will be televised on UniMas beginning at 8.

■ CHAVEZ-VERA REMATCH? — Brian Vera still is upset over the unanimous decision loss he suffered to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Sept. 28 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.. The super middleweight from Texas is hoping he will get a rematch in December, most likely in his home state.

Chavez won the disputed 10-round fight with scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94, though virtually every ringside observer had Vera winning.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said he talked to Chavez last week and said Chavez (47-1-1, 32 KOs) is willing to face Vera (23-7, 14 KOs) again, this time in Texas. Vera said he’ll be glad to fight Chavez again as long as the contract has stricter terms.

“We have to make sure to put real punishments in the contract and make sure Chavez comes in at the proper weight,” Vera said, alluding to the fact their fight, which originally was contracted for 163 pounds, and then got bumped up to 168 and eventually wound up a 173-pound 10-round contest, became a sham.

Art Pelullo, who promotes Vera, said of Chavez: “He has to live up to what he signs. It’s about how professional (Chavez) wants to be.”

Pelullo also said Chavez will agree to the fight because he needs to make amends with his fans, many of whom didn’t think he won.

“His own fans are disappointed in him,” Pelullo said. “The only way this gets rectified is a rematch in Texas, where Bryan is from.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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