The Kildare light middleweight took on Japanese champion Yuki Nonaka in a WBO title eliminator at the Brisbane Convention Centre and claimed a wide points win, retaining his WBO Oriental rankings belt in the process.
Ranked #7 and #8 respectively with the organisation, Hogan and Nonaka went into the bout looking to put themselves in the frame for a shot at a brown belt that soon looks likely to become vacant.
Fighting for the first time in eleven months – and for the first time under new promoter Paul Keegan and new trainer Glenn Rushton – Hogan was mightily impressive in what was one of the biggest fights of his career.
The 32 year old emigrant was just too smart for the rangey southpaw, and Hogan boxed his way to a clear win, looking better than he perhaps ever has.
Veteran Nonaka came into the bout unbeaten since 2009 and the 39 year old began the better, with his languid backhand left finding the target numerous times in the opening stanza – with one such straight shot sending Hogan reeling back into the ropes.
A much stronger second from Hogan saw him start to find his range, raiding the taller Nonaka well and landing with eye-catching single shots upstairs.
A more physical third saw Hogan work inside while Nonaka tried to tie him up. The Far East fighter’s left still posed a danger, but the Irishman looked to be the stronger as his momentum continued to build.
By the fourth, Hogan was scoring at will with the right, and countering any Nonaka advance with sharp shots.
The fifth round saw Hogan touch down twice as the orthodox v southpaw clash started to become messy, with legs tangling and heads coming perilously close.
Hogan landed some huge right hands over the top as the fight entered its second half, but there was some worry for the Kilcullen export who was nicked on the brow by an errant head.
Hogan continued to pick his shots in the seventh as the pace slowed.
Rushton in the corner would urge Hogan to up the pace going into the eighth, and the lilywhite began to throw more combinations, rocking the head back of Nonaka numerous times.
The fight opened up further in the penultimate round, as did the cut of Hogan, but it was the blood-stained Irishman who remained on top.
Needing a knockout, Nonaka came out firing in the tenth round, but Hogan retook control and finished the stronger to round out an impressive win.
Going to the cards with little doubt, Hogan was declared a winner with scorecards of 100-90 x2 and 99-91.
The result sees ‘The Hurricane’ move to 26(7)-1(0)-1, while the outmaneuvered but game Nonaka drops to 31(10)-9(1)-3
Beforehand the bout had been described as a de-facto world title final eliminator, and could lead to a vacant title shot in the new year.
The WBO’s current champion is Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, however he looks set to retire should he, as expected, defeat the #9-ranked Sadam Ali at Madison Square Garden on Saturday December 2nd.
The win tonight will shoot Hogan up the rankings and a fight with the winner of next month’s rematch between Liam Williams (WBO #2) and Liam Smith (WBO #4) for the vacant title is a possibility – with promoter Keegan expressing his desire to bring the bout to Brisbane.
Kildare Boxing is proudly supported by Liffey Crane Hire