Monday, December 05, 2022  |



Monaghan gets hosed; Itskowitch resigns from Roc Nation Sports


Sean Monaghan with promoter Bob Arum. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/Top Rank Promotions

The ups and downs of the outside-the-ring stuff can drain a guy even more than the physical toll taken from trading punches.

With boxing being a Wild West frontier sport, with no central league making the schedule, the making of fights can be a wild, woolly and confounding experience.

Exhibit A: Sean Monaghan, the Long Island-based light heavyweight, thought he’d gotten the opportunity of a lifetime two weeks ago. Andre Ward hadn’t locked down an opponent for his Aug. 6 clash in Oakland and word went out that Seanie could get the gig.

Here’s the recollection of the 34-year-old Monaghan, on how he went from pumped to deflated, over the span of a couple rollercoaster days.

“Basically Roc Nation (Sports, promoter of Ward) asked Top Rank, would I be interested to fight (Ward) in his hometown on short notice. I instantly said yes. I found out the next day that they were offering half of what Sullivan Barrera got to fight Ward in his last fight, which I didn’t feel was a great offer, being that I’m 27-0 and Barrera was 17-0. They said it was a final offer, so I accepted. Then (Roc Nation) asked what kind of gloves I wanted to wear. I said I really don’t care; I guess Everlast because that’s what I always wear. They said no to that. Then they said all sponsors I wanted had to be OK’ed by them. We agreed on that.”

The tale of woe continues, “The deal-breaker was that if I pulled out of the fight on short notice, Top Rank had to pay Roc Nation $700,000. But if Ward, who has pulled out of fights on short notice before, pulled out, Top Rank couldn’t sue and had to pay for all their own expenses. It basically was unacceptable; the money sucked and they never negotiated anything.”

Strange circumstances, seems like. It has Monaghan wondering which end is up and what the point of the exercise was. Alexander Brand was the rumored foe and was officially announced as the opponent soon after Monaghan had his hopes dashed.

“I believe Ward’s people didn’t want him in a rough fight three months before fighting (IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey) Kovalev,” mused Monaghan. “They had their guy in mind: Brand from Colombia. I think HBO didn’t want him and told Ward to fight me. He thinks the outreach to make a Ward versus Monaghan bout was not 100 percent (and) was more so done to create leverage to get Brand OK’ed.”

We reached out to Roc Nation to get their side and also offered HBO the opportunity to weigh in.

I was set to speak to Roc Nation boxing COO Dave Itskowitch on Thursday. The time got pushed back more than once; I tried to reset the chat to Friday morning and then word dribbled out late Thursday that Itskowitch had resigned from that entity.

I had informed him on Wednesday late afternoon that I wanted a response to the Monaghan info, supplied the details and he asked for a few hours to respond. Then came a request to respond via a phoner the next day, through a PR person. Then, the unexpected news of the exit from the Jay Z business arm, which has not had an overly smooth go of it since entering this shark pool of boxing promotion two years ago.

Gary Shaw headed up the operation but parted ways with Roc Nation after less than a month and Itskowitch, formerly with Golden Boy Promotions, was overseeing the roster topped by 35-year-old Miguel Cotto and Ward, who had been fighting infrequently, because of injuries and legal differences with ex-promoter, the late Dan Goossen.

Late Thursday, Itskowitch confirmed he’d resigned. A Roc Nation PR person working the boxing side emailed me this brief release, “Roc Nation is thankful for the efforts of David Itskowitch as it relates to Roc Nation Sports boxing. At this time, we have decided to part ways and will not be commenting further.”

Right now, the promotional waters are rippling with waves, including this announcement and also that ex-Golden Boy boss Richard Schaefer is getting back into the pool.

All this is perhaps immaterial to Monaghan, who simply craves a step-up opportunity to show the doubters he’s more than a blue-collar brawler.

Michael Woods would never get into a pool with Richard Schaefer…that is unless Woodsy could fart in the pool and blame it on him.

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