Irish-born boxer Dennis Hogan moves closer to word title fight after latest victory
Kilcullen-born boxer Dennis Hogan moved a step closer to realising his lifetime ambition of securing a world title fight after beating Manchester's Jimmy Kelly in an unofficial title eliminator for the WBO light middleweight belt in Bribane today.
The 33-year-old, who is based in Australia, fashioned a unanimous points win over Kelly, whose only previous loss was against another UK fighter Liam Smith, who takes on the current WBO World light middleweight champion Sadam Ali next month in the US.
Hogan is hopeful of taking on the winner of the Smith v Ali bout later in the year and his promoter/manager Paul Keegan wants the contest staged in Hogan's adopted city of Brisbane.
There was a packed audience in Brisbane's Convention and Exhibition Centre for today's clash which the judges awarded by a wide margin to the Irish boxer, who prior to turning professional was beaten by future Olympic silver medallist Kenneth Egan in the semi-final of the 2009 Irish Elite championship.
One judge gave Hogan all but one of the rounds (119-109) while the other two ringside officials also voted decisively for the Irishman (117-113 and 117-111), though most other observers had scored the fight much closely with a 116-112 score a truer reflection of what was a close fight despite the official scorecards.
All this was immaterial to a delighted Hogan who said afterwards that the victory – the 27th in his professional career – felt exactly like he had imagined it.
"I visualised it all. The best has yet to come. Just sit back and watch me become world champion," he said.
"My eyes will be glued on the Smith/Ali fight. I have dreaming about a world title for years," added Hogan, who promised his opponent that when he becomes world champion he will defend the belt against the Manchester boxer in Dublin's 3Arena.
Kelly and Hogan's promoter Paul Keegan both revealed afterwards that the fight was in doubt during the last 24 hours for unspecified reasons. But Kelly – whose partner is expecting a baby back in the UK – acknowledged that the better fighter had won.
"I was beaten by the better man. There was a lot going on this week. The fight was touch and go up to a couple of hours ago. We pulled through but Dennis is a deserved winner.
Four inches taller than Hogan, Kelly had a significant reach advantage and he used his left jab to keep the favourite at a distance and land body shots in the opening two rounds.
Hogan's tentative opening could have been as a result of his recent inactivity in the ring – he only boxed once in 2017 – but by the third round he had found his rhythm and was getting inside to land the better punches.
The fight looked evenly balanced at the halfway point but Hogan's forecast that his stamina would prove crucial against a fighter, who although seven years younger had never fought beyond ten rounds, proved accurate.
With the exception of the eighth round, Hogan dominated the second half of the contest. Kelly's decision to abandon fighting at a distance and opt to turn the contest into a battle in the championship rounds backfired badly as it allowed Hogan to land some telling shots which obviously impressed the judges.
Hogan almost knocked Kelly out of the ring in the final round as he cruised to a deserved success and a step closer to securing that elusive world title fight.