The Kildare light middleweight defeated Welshman Jamie Weetch at the Brisbane Convention Centre to defend his WBO Inter-Continental title, pick up the IBF Pan-Pacific title, and, most importantly, retain a shot at the WBO world title.
There were a couple of scares early on but Hogan, as he so often does, managed to take control and dominate down the stretch to take a unanimous decision in the high-stakes, high-pressure encounter.
During camp for this fight, Hogan had WBO mandatory status confirmed but he elected to proceed into the contest – on the one hand risking a guaranteed shot at the brown belt currently held by Mexican Jaime Munguia but, on the other, staying sharp and getting valuable ring time against an aggressive opponent.
Hogan was headlining his third consecutive DDP Promotions card at the Brisbane Convention Centre following impressive wins over WBO Top Ten fighters Yuki Nonaka and Jimmy Kelly which, along with plenty of lobbying, have put him in pole position for a shot at the belt.
Based in Perth in Western Australia, Weetch had scored the best win of his career last December against former Hogan foe Yao Yi Ma but had fought just once since then – a July blow-out of journeyman Rocky Alap Alap.
Hogan began well off the jab but had to take a few early right hands over the top from Weetch who looked to be carrying power.
The 33-year-old title hopeful looked to have found his timing in the second, countering well but Weetch was still dangerous when the pair traded and landed some more warning shots.
The warnings turned into a potential crisis as a huge right hand from Weetch visibly hurt Hogan and sent him into the ropes in the third and the Kildare man needed to respond
Respond he did and Kilcullen’s Hogan began to open up in the fourth, firing in more and more big right hands off the jab as Weetch looked for the one big shot.
A right hand to the body from ‘The Hurricane’ caused Weetch to blow out heavily at the start of the fifth and he would enjoy an extremely strong stanza. Landing with flurries, a big right hand from Hogan forced Weetch to stagger across the entire ring and into the ropes.
There was then controversy at the close of the round with both exchanging tapping shots after the bell and squaring up before Weetch dug in a cheap bodyshot that sent Hogan to the canvas. The referee decided on no punishment for the Welshman but Hogan took this issue into his own hands, landing a volley of big shots at the in the opening salvos as the sixth as the atmosphere exploded in the Brisbane Convention Cente.
Using his range well, the long shots of Hogan were jarring the head of his Newport foe with increasing regularity through the seventh.
Relentless, Hogan pressed on in the eighth with Weetch looking out on his feet. Landing big shots, including some lovely sneaky uppercuts, Hogan teed off but a wobbly Weetch managed to stay on his feet while still throwing some wild shots of his own.
The right hands continued to rain in on Weetch in the ninth but the Welshman seemed to have found his second wind having survived the previous Hogan onslaught.
A quieter tenth saw Hogan keep things simple as the brave Weetch continued to press.
Entering the championship rounds, Hogan remained in control of the tempo of what was becoming a quite scrappy contest and, with Weetch needing and going for the knockout, he kept it safe in the final session to round off the win.
Going to the cards with little doubt, Hogan was confirmed a winner on scores of 117-111, 118-110, and a slightly wide 119-109, and should now go on to challenge for the WBO world title in the new year.
Munguia [31(26)-0] will defend the title on January 26th versus Japanese voluntary Takeshi Inoue at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. ‘The Beast’ is widely expected to win and, should he remain at light middleweight, he would have to face Hogan next.
For now, though, Hogan improves to 28(7)-1(0)-1 and will enjoy his Christmas while the game Weetch, who drops to 12(5)-3(0), will no doubt come again.