The Brisbane-based Kildare light middleweight moved up to #4 in the most recent WBO rankings following his win over Japanese champion Yuki Nonaka, which saw him defend his WBO Oriental rankings title for a second time.
The division’s current champion is Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, who defends his belt against #7 Sadam Ali this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The fight is intended to be a swansong send-off for the four-weight champion and should, as he is heavily expected to do, Cotto defeat Ali, he will retire and vacate the belt.
In pole position for a shot at a vacant belt – or indeed Ali, if he pulls off an unlikely shock – is English fighter and former champ Liam Smith [26(14)-1(1)-1], who defeated Welshman Liam Williams in a final eliminator earlier this month.
The WBO rankings are now starting to open up in Hogan’s favour. #3 Kanat Islam and #5 John Vera are ranked #1 and #2 respectively by the WBA, and that body has ordered an eliminator for a shot at the belt held by Erislandy Lara
Aside from the possibility of Ali upsetting Cotto, the only other obstacle standing in the way of a Liam Smith v Dennis Hogan vacant title fight is the #2 ranked Magomed Kurbanov [12(9)-0].
The 22 year old Russian is building a big reputation, however, considering his age and stage of development, the ‘Black Lion’ may be amenable to stepping aside. In addition, Kurbanov’s schedule may not line up, with him defending his WBO International rankings title on Friday December 15th.
Mandatory challenger Smith seems keen on an England v Ireland bout with Hogan, whose team travelled from Brisbane to Newcastle for talks with promoter Frank Warren earlier this month and to take in Smith-Williams 2.
— Liam Smith (@LiamBeefySmith) November 28, 2017
DPP Sports Management, who look after the career of Hogan, have stated that they want to bring the fight Down Under – however the promotional power of Frank Warren and the BT Sport platform may see such a fight fight take place closer to Hogan’s homeland.