By Michael Woods
Joe Higgins looks at Sean Monaghan and he sees Marvin Hagler.
OK, a paler version…
The trainer (seen left in photo, with Monaghan, right) sees a fighter who, when he gets his shot at gold crown, will win it, and scores of doubters will come rushing over to embrace him.
He sees a kid who he believes should get not one, not two, but three shots against Sergey Kovalev.
Yeah, a trilogy. Something that is a construct for the greats, and rivals for the ages.
The Long Island based tutor, a former firefighter for NY who had to exit that field because of medical issues stemming from his presence working the felled World Trade Center in 2001, has been telling folks that Monaghan is more than many think he is for about four years.
“Sean is the only one ranked at light heavyweight by all four sanctioning bodies,” the ex FDNY told me. “So it’s not a matter of if but when he gets a shot. And when he does, people are going to stop sleeping on him. He’s going to be the matinee idol of this sport!”
Man, I want a Higgins type working my corner if I were a pugilist. He’s the antidote to the shouting doubters, the doubting shouters who clog social media, critiquing harshly from the safety of the sofa. Slurp soda, condemn this one or that one for being a bum, post pic plate of food to Instagram, brag about gym workout, etc etc. Social media superstar, presentation to the public is of paramount importance. Likes collecting is the aim, the sad claim to fame…
Now, Higgins has a side that is less…optimistic. He offers a more brutal truth synopsis when he tells me, “No one is unbeatable. I’m not saying some of these champs aren’t really good fighters. But I will come up with a strategy, find the weaknesses, so we beat these guys.”
I figure the 26-0 Monaghan beats the 21-3 Finn Janne Forsman at the MSG Theater, on a Top Rank show, as the Finn is a tad doughy and has been stopped in all three losses.
Anyway, let us put the elephant in the room in our sites. Kovalev. You see a weakness? I don’t know that I do…
“Yeah I do,” said Higgins. “I’d rather not get into it now. But I see balance. I see where he leaves himself open. But yes, I also see greatness. That fight might happen. And when it does, you might see a trilogy. That’s how I feel about Sean’s preparation.”
But Higgins knows the best way to pound the table is with a nice win Saturday. “Mike, I tell you what right now, baby, you can put it in the books,” he said. “It’s gonna be a nice looking knockout.”