Dennis Hogan will have to come back for a third time if he is to realize his world title dream.
Like a host of Irish before him. Hogan came unheralded to Brooklyn, New York in search of success as he challenged for the WBC middleweight world title at the Barclays Center on Saturday night.
However, for the second time in quick succession, the Kilcullen man suffered top table heartache, as he was stopped by the talented two-weight world champion Jermall Charlo.
Unlike his April world title defeat to Jaime Munguia. this one wasn’t controversial, ‘The Hitman’ deserved his win.
Hogan was ever brave and tough, but the WBC title holder looked a grade above in terms of size and schooling in the Showtime-broadcast PBC main event.
The title holder dropped Hogan for the first time in his career in the fourth and by that stage the two-time world title challenger looked that bit more vulnerable on the outside.
However, the game and popular Brisbane-based fighter looked the smaller man so couldn’t attempt to press the action or bully a fighter that appeared more at home at middleweight.
The relative cat and mouse nature of the fight continued and in the seventh the champion got the stoppage he predicted.
Hogan started full of movement and feints, not quite on the back foot but using the ring. Charlo appeared relaxed, content to do some Irish studies, but did land the first punch of the fight, a stiff jab.
A left hook and a long left hand landed for Hogan in the second half of the round, which could have been enough to steal it.
There was an obvious gear change from the Texan in the second. He was more active and aggressive. He pushed the pace and although he was smiling Hogan was being forced to work hard to try and keep out of serious trouble.
The Kildare fighter responded well in the start of the third, making Charlo miss and landing a beautifully timed left hook. The Champion found some distance midway through the round and was looking to land the back hand with intent. However, the challenger was still giving him things to think about if not things to overly worry him.
Hogan hit the canvas for the first in his career early in the fourth when a beautiful hook turned uppercut from the Houstan native forced the Irishman to visit the floor.
Hogan back rolled, rose to his feet and looked steady enough on his legs. Charlo, who seemed to grow in stature in every round, smelt blood, put it on the lilywhite, but the finish he promised didn’t look like coming.
By the time the fifth was done there were those in press row predicting that stoppage wasn’t too far off. The champion grew in confidence and looked in control. He landed some heavy backhands and, to Hogan’s credit. he took them, but it appeared as if a change of approach was needed. The DDP fighter was getting caught clean and finding it hard find his opponent with anything meaningful.
Hogan did land a check left hook early in the sixth, but again the round went to the champ and it looked like the inevitable was coming.
Hogan was full of effort, but looked like he hadn’t the size to switch to a more aggressive game plan.
It certainly looked like middleweight versus light middle when Charlo closed the show early in the seventh.
A left hook in the opening few seconds stiffened the legs of the 34-year-old and a more timely hook soon after put the brave Irish fighter on the seat of his pants.
‘The Hurricane’ rose to his feet, but the referee ended proceedings 28 seconds into the stanza, declaring Charlo the victor in the process.
Hogan will no doubt be disappointed and it may make the result may make the Munguia robbery all the more harder to take.
However, he reached the kind of stage some Irish fighters don’t even dare to dream about. The Kidlare man took centre stage on a massive Showtime card and challenged for a belt that was held previously by the likes of Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Sergio Martinez.
The Glen Rushton trained coach also probably suffered in terms of the world title because of his desire to dethrone the best. Rather than bide his time at a his more natural weight where an easier title shot my have come around, Hogan moved up to meet an in-form title holder.
The risk didn’t result in tangible reward, but Hogan has certainly earned the respect from far and wide in 2019.