Dennis Hogan isn’t going to Mexico to box for the WBO light middleweight world title and a pay day – he is going to the home of some of the greatest ever fighters to take the belt claims a bullish Paul Keegan.
The Kildare fighter knew for certain since last November that he would get his chance to try and dethrone champion Jaime Munguia but when and the where remained up in the air until last night.
Australia was an option his promoters DDP were exploring, America always appealed, Ireland was also mentioned but that is the prefered destination for a potential first defence, and when Mexico was mooted it was initially shot down by Team Hogan.
In fact such a no go was Munguia’s home country that DDP were willing to let the Golden Boy’s next big thing have a voluntary defense south of the American border and fulfil their mandatory obligations later in the year.
The WBO put paid to that, insisting Munguia and Hogan had to happen next and, with purse bids looming and negotiations with Golden Boy stalling, DDP began to warm to the ideal of Mexico and an April 13th fight at the Arena Monterrey has been confirmed – with Hogan reportedly set to pocket over €300,000.
However, while Keegan admits the circumstances suggest a Hogan win should be remembered alongside the greatest ever Irish world title victories, he is confident that that will be the very outcome.
Indeed, the Brisbane-based fight boss says he is happy with the deal they have negotiated in terms of finance and fairness and suggests the Mexico element frees his man of pressure and lumps it all on the big shoulders of champion.
“Look, Dennis is not going to Mexico to fight for the title, he is going out there to win it, that’s his mindset,” Keegan told Irish-Boxing.com.
“The self belief, determination, and confidence he has. Dennis is 33 years of age now so, realistically, he has to go and win it. Dennis is fine with Mexico and is excited about causing what most will call an upset. He has worked hard to get this fight and he deserves it,” he continued before discussing the Mexico element and admitting that the calendar somewhat forced their hand.
“Once we knew we were going to Mexico we got terms into the contract we were happy with. We made sure we got neutral judges for starters, that was important to us. There will be no Mexican judges scoring the fight.”
“Up to 48 hours ago a dual world title fight with Jeff Horn in Australia was an option but with purse bids called for early next week we just hadn’t enough time. Ideally we probably needed another six weeks to get that all right.”
“With that in mind, we had to think about Dennis and his chance to make some money. He has a young family and a daughter to think of so we got him a good purse. We stacked in as many positives as we could once we agreed on Mexico and we are happy now.”
“Dennis has been training, but now he has a date to focus on. Most likely we will only be in Mexico for the weigh in and the night of the fight.”
A win in Mexico against such a well know fighter would put Hogan up their with Wayne McCullough and TJ Doheny – the only British or Irish fighters to win world titles in Japan – as a legendary away day performer.
That’s how difficult the task appears at first sight but the more Keegan gets used to the idea of travelling the more he grows in confidence.
The Dublin promoter believes the homecoming element will put massive pressure on the massive for the weight champion and Keegan also takes solace in the fact Golden Boy were so keen to take the bout outside America suggesting rumours that the giant puncher is struggling at the weight and as a result they are attempting to give him every advantage possible.
Rainising the stakes for Munguia, Keegan described how “all the pressure is on him, even more so now. He is going home to big fanfare, is said to be a star of the future, and is going into the fight as massive favourite.”
“Winning might not be enough for him, he really has to perform. There is a massive difference of fighting at home as a hyped champion in front of your fans, family and friends. Then you have people online asking ‘who is this Dennis Hogan’? He faces massive embarrassment if he losses. Now that is pressure.”
Keegan believes that kind of pressure to put on a show will force Munguia to look for the knockout, which he says will play into ‘The Hurricane’s’ hands.
“I believe Dennis has a world class performance in him and I believe we will see it in Mexico but we could be helped by that pressure on Munguia.”
“If Dennis stays out of trouble for the first two rounds the champion is in trouble. He will try and knock Dennis out early and, when he doesn’t, the pressure increases and the 17,000 crowd get restless.”
“Let’s face it, he isn’t knocking Dennis out. This is a man who represented Ireland at light heavyweight. He went to camps all over the place with Ireland and was in with big world class light heavies and he has never once been dropped.”
“He is fitter now, stronger and more experienced so when Munguia doesn’t put a dent in him early on Dennis can take over and outbox him,” Keegan added before stressing the Mexican is not the monster people make him out to be.
The DDP boss outlined how “I saw him win the title against Sadam Ali. Admittedly he looked amazing that night, but when you think about it properly, he isn’t scary. Ali was a blown up welterweight who had the title because he beat an injured [Miguel] Cotto.”
“He then defends against [Liam] Smith and Smith just showed him way to much respect. Everyone knows what the Brandon Cook fight was and then he didn’t impress against Takeshi Inoue who isn’t the greatest either.”
“If he is as good as they say, why didn’t they take Dennis earlier or put him in with good fighters? People are now beginning to see he has been hyped up too much. He might go on to be a great fighter, but he isn’t one yet,” Keegan adds before expressing a belief the 22-year-old struggles at the weight.
“Look at his last fight, he was slow and lethargic. The talk is he is weight drained and there is no doubt he will have to work hard to make the weight. I saw him at the weight in for the last fight and he looked terrible. Ok he re-hydrated, but it still affected his performance.”
The DDP boss, who is expecting a least 1/000 Hogan fans to attend what could be a sensational night, was speaking after a month of going back-and-forth with promotional powerhouse Golden Boy.
The Dublin businessman and his team have proved massively successful in Australia since entering boxing just 18 months ago, but he admits working with Golden Boy proved an eye opener.
Keegan described how “we are proud of the fact we are making a world title fight just 18 months in and of the work we have done so far, but this was a step up.”
“You really see the power of having a DAZN behind you. If you have a platform like that or a TV Network backing you then you have a lot more power at the table. We have had shows on TV in Australia, but we haven’t that kind of backing and can’t bring endless pockets to the table.”