The Kildare puncher outpointed Manchester’s Jimmy Kelly in a gruelling twelve rounder, the headline fight of the DDP Sports ‘Revolution’ bill at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
Following three months of big build-up and pointed trash-talk, the action in the ring perhaps didn’t catch fire – but the sometimes scrappy bout remained an engrossing back-and-forth contest
While the bout was not a final eliminator – as Liam Smith already holds the mandatory challenger tag ahead of his title clash with champion Sadam Ali in New York next month – WBO Oriental champ Hogan was ranked #2 and WBO Inter-Continental titlist Kelly was placed one spot, meaning the winner would find themselves primely placed.
It is Hogan who will take that place now following a tough fight in which he had his customarily strong second half.
Just up the road on the Gold Coast Irish boxers Kurt Walker and Aidan Walsh had kicked off the day with wins in the Last 16 of the Commonwealth Games, and Hogan ensured it was a great day for the Irish Down Under with a smart and physical. performance.
A busy opener, the size advantage for Kelly was immediately apparent and he went to the body and countered well as Hogan pushed constantly.
A better second round for the Irishman saw him pump out the jab constantly and establish his range somewhat while Kelly sought to counter with chopping shots.
Hogan, moving plenty, attempted to jump into range in the third but Kelly was controlling the action with his long jab – before a strong final thirty from the home fighter which may have snuck him the round.
Perhaps stung by this, Kelly looked to trade at the start of the fourth stanza and sunk in some lovely bodyshots in a round which became quite scrappy.
This continued into the fifth which was marred by constant clinching but it was Hogan who landed the cleaner shots – although these such punches were at a premium.
33-year-old Hogan, known for how he builds momentum within fights, started to up the pace in the sixth, landing plenty as Kelly looked to throw big single shots – landing one big left hook but later taking a similarly solid straight right from Hogan.
As the fight entered its second half it was Hogan again with the greater work-rate while Kelly, a classy boxer who was looking somewhat ragged for the first time, continued to target the body.
Wythenshawe’s Kelly came firing out in the eighth, a wild round which he got the better of with swinging shots, one big right catching Hogan square on.
Following a good start to the ninth for Kelly, a left hook from Hogan grabbed him a foothold followed by a neat uppercut and some well-timed right hands.
25-year-old Kelly kicked the pace up several notches in the tenth, charging at Hogan from the opening bell. Hogan got home some nice short counters but the round belonged to the away fighter.
The bout entered the championship rounds and there was a reversal, with Kelly standing off and Hogan beginning to press the action, cornering the Englishman at one stage and forcing him to hang on. Kelly had looked to have hit a wall physically and was shook badly then by another big right from the fresh lilywhite.
There was a respectful nod and a touch of the gloves ahead of the twelfth and final round and the gutsy Kelly emptied the tank. The relentless Hogan wrestled back control in the second half and then almost had Kelly down, manoeuvering the Manc to the ropes but pushing him through and no knockdown was ruled, correctly.
Going to the cards, Hogan was declared a deserved winner – however, the cards of 119-109, 117-111 in his favour were far, far too wide for what was a close fight, while 117-113 seemed a faired reflection.
Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 116-112 in favour of Hogan
The win sees Hogan improve his record to 27(7)-1(0)-1, while Kelly drops to 23(9)-2(1).
Now with both the WBO Oriental and Inter-Continental belts, Hogan will be an extremely interested observer for the title fight in Turning Stone Casino in Verona on May 19th.
Kildare boxing is proudly supported by Liffey Crane Hire.