236 February 2009 – By Cormac Campbell
The markets may be in turmoil, but Martin Rogan’s stock keeps rising.
Should he emerge victorious in a Commonwealth scrap with European Champion Matt Skelton on Saturday night at the NIA in Birmingham, the Belfast cabbie can call out the likes of Messrs Klitschko and Haye without having his tongue planted in his cheek.
The former Irish Senior Champion, now 11-0, 5KO as a pro, appeared to be on a road to nowhere at this time 12 months ago, but an incredible rags to riches story has established Rogan as one of Ireland’s favourite boxers. His popularity isn’t solely based on his ability to wax lyrical – although that has helped – more importantly he has backed up his talk in the ring.
Although victory in April’s Prizefighter made the boxing fraternity sit up and take notice, it was victory over former Olympic Champion Audley Harrison in December which brought the part-time actor (Man About Dog) in to the mainstream. Promoter Frank Warren certainly believes Rogan can produce the goods, promising a World title shot if the John Breen trained star emerges victorious in front of Sky TV’s cameras.
Rogan’s new found fame has also afforded him the opportunity to train as a full time professional. He may still talk like a taxi-driver, but his keys are very much in his back pocket for the foreseeable future. Rumour has it that in a bid to match Skelton’s (22-2, 19KO) rough-house style, Rogan has brought in some ‘interesting’ sparring partners.
Travelling the length and breadth of Ireland and mixing it with a number of bear-knuckle fighters may not meet the approval of purists, but given the task that lies ahead it is undoubtedly appropriate.
Rogan may be 37-years-old but should he earn the scalp of Skelton his career is only just beginning.