The Brisbane-based Kildare light middleweight took on WBO champion Jaime Munguia at the Arena Monterrey in Monterrey atop a Golden Boy Promotions and Zanfer card where he put in one of the most incredible performances ever seen by an Irish fighter.
A 20/1 outsider, Hogan was given little chance going into the bout with the 22-year-old giant-for-the-weight Tijuana titlist but looked to have claimed the greatest win in Irish boxing history – and an early contender for Upset of the Year – only to be denied on the scorecards.
A good start and a good finish seemed to have been enough for Hogan to take the brown belt but he lost out on a majority decision – much to his own dismay and to the disagreement of the majority of onlookers.
Hogan had had his eye on this particular title for well over a year – all the way back to when Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto held the strap. The Caribbean boxer was expected to defeat Sadam Ali in December 2016 in a farewell fight before retiring to pave the way for a vacant title clash between Hogan and mandatory Liam Smith.
Of course, this did not happen, with Ali upsetting the odds and delaying Hogan’s shot. Top of the queue, Smith was set to challenge last April but was forced to pull out following an allergic reaction and in stepped the largely unknown Munguia, fresh from being rejected as a potential Gennady Golovkin opponent, and the monstrous Mexican would dominate and stop Ali inside four.
Smith eventually got his shot and was outpointed before voluntary defences from the rising Latino versus Canadian Brandon Cook and Japan’s Takeshi Inoue leading into tonight – a bout many predict will be his final in the 154lbs class.
While he had seemingly been within touching distance ever since his dominant win over Japanese champion and WBO Top Ten fighter Yuki Nonaka in October 2017, Hogan has been building as he awaited his shot. In April he overcame another WBO Top Ten-rated opponent in Jimmy Kelly in a competitive clash in Brisbane.
WBO #1 but not mandatory, and with a shot at Munguia seemingly not forthcoming, Hogan stayed sharp and fostered a high IBF ranking with a win over Welsh slugger Jamie Weetch – and saw his mandatory status confirmed during camp for this December fight.
Hogan, who emigrated Down Under almost a decade ago, and his team had always been supremely confident of overcoming Munguia. The Ali domination was put down to the New Yorker being a natural welterweight, Smith showed too much respect, Cook was simply way out of his depth, and Inoue enjoyed more than enough success to offer hope.
Indeed, despite rumours of Munguia struggling at the weight, Hogan was determined to face the champion rather than receive a vacant title shot and even having to have the fight in Mexico rather than as part of a big card in America – or even enticing the beltholder to Brisbane – was no issue to ‘The Hurricane’.
And so, after 34 years, Hogan got his chance tonight, in Mexico’s third largest city, in front of about 14,000 fans largely baying for his blood.
Following ringwalks and national anthems, it was an extremely cagey opening round – and it was Hogan who landed the only real shots of note, two right hands getting through, with a clipping left hook from Munguia towards the close.
Hogan continued to be crafty in the second, sneaking in shots as Munguia upped the workrate, trying to pin the Irishman down.
It had been the perfect start for the Kilcullen man and he landed a big overhand right to start the third, pushing the champion back. Perhaps frustrated, Munguia tagged Hogan off a break. Warming up, Munguia landed his first big right hand of his own followed by another but Hogan wore them well.
The pair traded for the first time in the fourth – and it was Hogan who landed the cleaner shots before picking another nice right hand. Munguia was being instructed to go to the body and got caught with a left hook coming in as the sensational start from the Irishman continued.
Munguia was closing the distance better into the fifth, ripping in body shots and catching Hogan upstairs in his best round thus far before a pair of right hands from the challenger at the close.
The champion had found something of a groove and landed heavy single shots to start the sixth. Hogan’s movement had slowed, the body shots perhaps taking a toll, but he still snuck in his fair share, again enjoying a good finish.
Glenn Rushton, the coach behind Jeff Horn’s shock win over Manny Pacquiao, would tell Hogan that he was winning the fight as we entered the second half. The lilywhite started the seventh stanza well but was looking somewhat ragged as the champion pressed – although he, again, caught Munguia with a big right hand in the final few seconds.
Hogan roared back in the eighth, a revival round, landing clean shots, including a beautiful uppercut during a by-now customary strong finish.
Pressing in the ninth, Hogan traded inside and Munguia was looking somewhat beleaguered as the tide turned.
The DAZN broadcast team had Hogan 5-4 up going into the tenth – although CompuBox had Munguia landing 17 more power punches in total by this stage. The visitor picked some nice straight shots at the start of the stanza before a mini volley from Munguia mid-way through. Hogan, again, roarded back with right hands, shaking Munguia – although having his own mouthpiece dislodged by a shot in return – followed by an electric final thirty.
Munguia was read the riot act by his corner going into the championship rounds and was told he needed to win the final two – and would promptly walk into a huge shot from Hogan that caused him to reel backwards. It was furious stuff from there but Hogan, sharper and more accurate, was doing the better work.
Feeling he needed a knockout, Munguia came out aggressively in the final round but was unable to put Hogan down who then fought back with clean counters and smart boxing down the stretch, wrestling the champion down as the seconds ticked away to the final bell and, what seemed, the most amazing of victories.
The question now was whether Hogan could get a decision in Mexico – and he sadly could not.
Following a 114-114 drawn card, a 115-113 and 116-112 was read out and, following an agonising pause, ‘AND STILL…’ was called.
Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 115-113 in Hogan’s favour, the same tally as the DAZN broadcast team – with the first (to Hogan) and the third and seventh (to Munguia) being the toughest to split.
A distraught Hogan hit out at the decision and revealed that an instant rematch had been offered to him in the ring – but Munguia himself would suggest a move up in weight.
A sour end to an amazing performance, Hogan pledged to come back and become a world champion and, on tonight’s showing, it looks more than attainable.
He now falls to 28(7)-2(0)-1 but comes out of the fight with huge credit having established himself as a real player on the scene – although that will be no consolation tonight.
Munguia improves to 33(26)-0 following the fortuitous win which has seen his rising star status dim slightly.
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