7 March 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
It is difficult to put in to words just how far Martin Rogans career has advanced in the last 12 months without slipping in to the tired clich of a Rocky Balboa analogy.
A year ago a 36-year-old Rogan was on the verge of packing away his gloves, and with them the dreams of title glory every boxer harbours. Rogan could always talk a good fight but since turning professional in 2004, securing the opportunity to back up his belief was another matter.
However, his decision to enter the maiden edition of Barry Hearns Prizefighter Series in April 2008 proved to be the starting point of a period of transformation in the former hurlers career.
Defeating Dave Ferguson, David Dolan and Alex Ibbs in a traditional manner is hardly going to make the world sit up and take notice but do it in one evening, as Rogan did at Londons York Hall, and it is an entirely different matter.
Many traditionalists have given Prizefighter a wide berth, but there is no doubting the positive effect it has had on Martin Rogan. Without it he would most likely have quit, undefeated, untested and unknown. But because of it Rogan has been afforded the chance to prove to the boxing community what one suspects he always knew.
Having earned 25,000 by winning Prizefigter, Rogan was afforded the opportunity to approach his sport in a full-time manner and also to tackle some of the domestic scenes biggest names.
A December victory over Audley Harrison ensured a title chance against Commonwealth and European Champion Matt Skelton and although a betting underdog, Rogie powered to victory.
Still sporting the bruises of his epic stoppage victory over Skelton in Birmingham, irish-boxing.com caught up with Rogan to discuss the future.
“Some people were saying that it could be the fight of the year,” he beamed.
“It was a tough fight; I had to prove my stamina, my heart and my chin and I ticked all those boxes. Matt was the European champion, although that wasn’t on the line, and the Commonwealth champion. He had fought for the World title and had a good World ranking and I was the first person to stop him (in the 11th round).”
Rogans performance against Skelton has made him one of the best known sports stars in his home city but he is keen to point out that his feet remain firmly on the ground.
“I dont think I am anything special even after winning the Commonwealth title I am just an ordinary guy who trains hard to do his best.”
It is somewhat peculiar to note that although Rogans style in the ring is incessantly aggressive, he is known to be something of a joker out of it. That said, business is business.
“Coming into a fight you have to have a killer instinct. That doesn’t mean you carry it about on a day-to-day basis, but when you step into the ring you have to deal with the task at hand. It’s a contact sport you are in so you really have to go at it. You aren’t trying to inflict harm or pain on anybody. Now the fight is over I’m a family man again and I go about my business day today. I’m only after the prize of winning titles but life goes on.
“Obviously, there are people who are angry every day of their lives. I have my moments, I’m no angel. If I’m driving and people pull out in front of me I get angry the same as everybody else.”
That of course was a reference to Rogan’s days as a taxi driver, a career he has temporarily retired from in order to concentrate on boxing.
“I do miss taxiing and driving people around and that wee bit of freedom, when you are waiting for a job of reading the paper or watching a portable TV in the car and then do the long runs. But when you are preparing for a fight there are a lot of hours to put in and after a days work your body really does cry out for help.”
Only days after the Skelton fight it is perhaps too soon for Rogan to talk about his next fight after all it was a war.
“I’ll take a couple of weeks off and then I’ll knuckle down again,” he argued.
“I have to switch off. Your head tells you to go down to the gym but your body needs to rest. I need to let my body come down before taking it back up. It cant stay up there all the time.”
May has been mentioned as the date for Rogans next fight, but who Rogan will be knuckling down to fight remains to be seen. The fact that Skelton’s EBU belt wasn’t on the line means that although the Irishman has beaten the number one in Europe, he isn’t officially recognised as the number one in Europe.
Skelton looks set to be stripped of his crown having lost to a lower ranked boxer, and having beaten the champion Rogan has been tipped for a shot at the vacant title.
“It would be nice to fight for it, but there are a lot of fighters who have gone past it the Klitschkos didn’t fight for it, instead they went straight for the World.”
Among the names being bandied about for the date is former World cruiserweight champion David Haye, who appears to be sitting on his hands waiting for a shot at either of the Klitschko brothers.
“People mentioned that before the Skelton fight and again afterwards. David Haye is out there in the heavyweight division. Whether he sees me as a contender or a blockage to him if he wants me to fight I would fight him if the price is right.”
Things have changed for Martin Rogan. The world is his oyster. Sylvester Stallone would have been proud.