06 November 2009 – By Steve Wellings
It was a case of different fight, same result, as Sam Sexton retained his Commonwealth heavyweight title in the hostile atmosphere of Belfasts Odyssey Arena. The 25-year-old kept a cool head under pressure and broke the heart and stamina of the local man, causing Rogan to retire after six rounds, citing a damaged left arm.
Despite the pre-fight promises of an all new fighting machine with hidden skills, busting to come to the fore, it was the same old Rogie rumbling forward, with added emphasis on a body attack. Howard Foster had the thankless task of keeping things clean, as Rogan bored in with the head and Sexton held on constantly, stifling his opponents rushes.
Rogan was fired-up in the opening exchanges, roughing his man and exciting the crowd without landing too much of significance; his pressure and flurries to the body were still catching the eye. Sextons solid jab was used sparsely in the opening three sessions, which was surprising given it kept Rogan at bay and off-balance.
Sams quality was counteracting Rogans quantity by the fourth and the Falls Road man was falling short, although a right hand off the ropes took Sextons attention.
In the fifth round, the inevitable happened and Sexton was hurt. Rogan, sporting a cut on the forehead, had his man lurching around the ring on unsteady legs, grappling for breathing space as trainer Graham Everett looked on anxiously.
A left hook pushed him back to the ropes and I hoped referee Howard Foster wouldnt respond to the vociferous reaction and withdraw the champion prematurely. He didnt, and the Norwich man made it back to the corner following a severe warning for incessant holding more importantly, he had survived and would not be troubled again.
The sixth saw a complete turnaround in events, with Rogan far from continuing the onslaught, he suddenly found himself on the end of the, so far absent, double-jab. Straight right hands followed and the shift in play was evident.
By the final 30 seconds of the round Martin was seriously fatigued and stared down at his boots, swaying across the ring, searching for respite. He slumped on the stool shaking his head as trainer Paul McCullach and assistant Gerard McCafferty attempted futile motivation.
Rogan shook his left hand and the referee was informed; Foster waved it off much to the dismay of the crowd, many of whom had not seen the warning signs. Sextons jubilant team flooded the ring and security rushed to quell a couple of irate locals who wanted to crash the ringside party.
MC Mark Burdis announced Rogans retirement at the beginning of round seven, due to a damaged left arm. The 38-year-olds fabulous run that reignited a stagnant domestic scene had come to an abrupt end.
In the dressing room post-fight, an assured Sexton felt he had settled the score after a controversial ending to the first contest: “I came over here last time as a big underdog and I did the job then; I came back to prove a point and I think I did more than enough tonight.
“It was a hostile crowd, as expected, and the Belfast people were behind their man but maybe Ill get the credit I deserve for coming back here when I didnt have to.
“He was throwing some good body shots but Im well covered to the body and no ones ever going to the hurt me down there. He definitely didnt pose me any more problems than last time. Rogan can punch and hes strong but Im stronger and the better man.”
Sexton acknowledged that the fifth round was a turning point, but hard training and preparation enabled him to pull through and come back stronger to finish the bout.
“I wasnt really surprised by the finish,” he added. “I said I was getting stronger all time and any other fighter would have gone down from my shots so all respect to Martin Rogan, he has a tough chin and they were solid shots I was throwing – I could feel them rocking him every time.
“Im by far the fittest Ive ever been and weve added different things to training; Im very excited about the rest of my career and Im a fresh 25. No matter that Im due to fight for the British title because it is already mine and if we can do bigger fights before that then well take them but the British title is a certainty. Nobody in Great Britain will stand up to me.”
Concluding, Sam cast doubts on the reasons for the pullout.
“Im a fair man and I dont run people down but was there an injury (to Rogan)? These shots I threw were solid and it took it out of him, breaking his heart. Remember that Im a sharp, big fella and I fight like a light-heavyweight using the jab and moving around the ring.”
Manager and show promoter Frank Warren was equally as enthusiastic: “Sam fought a great fight and he should get the credit for coming to the other guys backyard again,” he added.