‘The Hurricane’ was confident he would start the year with a WBO light middleweight title challenge believing he would face Liam Smith for a vacant strap – as it was expected that champion Miguel Cotto would go out with a victory and a successful defence versus Sadam Ali.
However, Ali threw a spanner in the works by beating the future Hall of Fame fighter in December. Hogan took the set back on the chin and went about forcing his way into mandatory position to make certain he would meet the winner of Ali’s first defence – which was meant to be against Smith this coming Saturday in Verona, New York.
The Kildare fighter played his part and beat two top 10 fighters on the bounce in Yuki Nonaka and Jimmy Kelly but the Frank Warren-promoted Smith pulled out of his world title shot following an allergic reaction.
Ali will now fight Mexican hotshot Jaime Munguia in Upstate New York this weekend and, while Hogan and Keegan will be ringside, the promoter believes the Brisbane-based puncher faces another world title delay.
“I believe Smith will remain mandatory as his injury is a very minor issue,” Keegan told Irish-Boxing.com.
“Ali’s fight is classed as a voluntary so I believe if Ali retains his title Smith will be next,” he added before expressing how frustrating
the situation is.
“It’s frustrating for ourselves as a team. Dennis has beaten two top 10 opponents on the bounce, nobody else has done that so if anyone deserves his shot it’s Dennis.”
The setback has frustrated but not deflated the team. Keegan will make the most of his trip to America and will push for the WBO to make his charge mandatory for the title.
The Dubliner, who is plotting an Emerald Exiles card at the National Stadium, also has meetings set up with Golden Boy and wants a chat with Frank Warren to ensure a fight with the Ali-Smith winner – providing the New Yorker wins this weekend against the 2017 Ring Magazine Prospect of the Year.
“Once the Smith-Ali fight gets rescheduled I would hope the WBO make Dennis mandatory. We have a meeting with [Golden Boy President] Eric Gomez on Saturday at the fight but we also want to speak with Frank Warren as we want to make sure we secure the winner as Dennis’s next opponent.”
The new lay of the land obviously doesn’t sit to well with Hogan but the 33-year-old is said to be relaxed in the knowledge that he is in touching distance of a tilt.
Keegan reveals that effectively being put back six months means they may take another fight in between.
“Dennis is great he has taken a nice break which he needed. He usually only takes a week off after a fight but after beating two top 10 opponents he deserves a decent break with his family back in Ireland.”
“He is very very keen to make sure he is next but with Smith injury it might have put him back six months which means he might fight again before a world title fight.”
“We have a few options on the table but we will make that decision as a team after we see the result on Saturday.”