Now the World

1 March 2009 – By Cormac Campbell

Martin Rogan again defied the experts by becoming Commonwealth heavyweight champion following an incredible 11 round war with Matt Skelton in Birmingham on Saturday night.

Although Skelton’s EBU title was not on the line, it appears likely that he will now be stripped allowing the Belfast cabbie to contest a vacant title fight – or even use his new lofty ranking as a bargaining chip in negotiations for a World title opportunity. The bout turned out to be every bit as exciting as had been predicted with the raw but effective Skelton, a former WBA title challenger, edging the early rounds with his unorthodox marauding style.

Rogan however, was in typically defiant mood. Growing in confidence as the fight progressed he kept up a frightening pace to catch his opponent time and time again with looping right hands. In the 11th round Skelton had had enough. Although he managed to climb off the canvas his spirit had been crushed and his energy reserves diminished. His corner recognised this and wisely saved their charge from any further punishment.

Rogan is now the Commonwealth champion – and can also regard himself as the rightful European kingpin to boot.

What’s next remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, after making his name in England, following victories in Prizefighter last April, vs Audley Harrison in December and now vs Skelton, the Belfast-boy is homeward bound on a deserved lap of honour.

The Kings Hall and the Odyssey Arena have been mentioned in dispatches with Promoter Frank Warren expected to deliver a European title fight at the very least.

Dubliner Paulie Hyland moved one step closer to a European bantamweight title following a points victory over Nikita Lukin in Barnsley on Friday. The bout, on the undercard of Rendall Munroe’s successful EBU super-bantamweight title defence against former champion Kiko Martinez, sees the Irish super-bantamweight champion move one step closer to a fight with incumbent champion Ian Napa.

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