When Dennis Hogan [25(7)-1(0)-1] walked into his office trying to sell a ticket or two, neither could dream it would eventually lead to a massive role reversal with Paul Keegan trying to put bums on seats as the promoter of one of the biggest shows to come to Australia in recent years.
So enamoured was Keegan with his fellow Irishman that he became a Hogan sponsor.
A business arrangement turned into a close friendship before things blossomed even further. Keegan quickly became an adviser, even manager of sorts, with the Dubliner advising Kildare’s Hogan with regard to a number of the business elements of boxing.
Keegan was, for the most part, just lending his friend his business acumen on an informal basis.
However, in a brilliant help yourself story, the pair now put it all on the line in Brisbane this weekend.
‘The Hurricane’ has long been highly ranked with the WBO at light middle and was confident at the very least an eliminator was on the cards. Yet time passed by and he started to feel left out. Worried his just rewards wouldn’t come, Keegan and a group of Aussie businessmen elected to help their friend out and DPP Sports was born.
All of a sudden, Keegan was leading the charge as a promoter and in what is his promotional debut is now putting on a card second only to the Pacquiao-Horn stadium show in terms of size, interest and notoriety in Australia this year.
The Kilcullen native now faces Japanese champion Yuki Nonaka [31(10)-8(1)-3] in a WBO light middleweight eliminator on Saturday at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
It’s believed if Miguel Cotto does vacate following his farewell fight this December, Hogan could fight the winner of Liam Smith and Liam Willliams for the vacant belt – should he beat the veteran Asian.
Outlining his story to Irish-Boxing.com, Keegan described how “In 2011 Dennis walked into to my company selling tickets to his third fight. Being a fellow Irishman I said ‘yeah’ so a few of us decided to head down.”
“After a few more fights he asked if I knew any companies looking to sponsor him. I had a chat with a few mates who also have businesses and we all chipped to give him a weekly wage to train.”
“The rest is history with each fight and getting to know Dennis we are all now like a family and we do all his promoting, management and so on. Now we have opened DDP Sports, it’s time to put everything we have learned over the last six years, numerous boxing shows, and put our bills on the line and see if we can do it.”
DDP Sports have not only delivered for Hogan and secured him a de-facto World title final eliminator on what is effectively home soil, they have also decided to try and deliver for Australian fight fans.
It’s a massive undertaking for a debut promotional company, but there is a bit a of the ‘go big or go home’ about DDP.
“It is a huge event for our first one,” Keegan continued.
“We could have picked a smaller venue but we wanted to back ourselves and bring Brisbane arena-style boxing. We have tried to put on a very good card for our first one. No doubt about it Dennis hogan vs Yuki Nonaka is the second biggest fight in Australia this year. This is going to be a great fight for the public.”
Just like Hogan was when he approached Keegan back in 2011, the new promoter is now in the ticket selling business. It’s something that has proved difficult for those fresh to the game over the years, but Keegan knows he has the core element to make the show a success – a good fight.
Both fighters could change their life with a win this coming weekend and generally a scrap with a World title shot is on the line it sells itself.
“Nonaka is fighting for the pride of Japan and a win here puts him one fight away from a world title fight so he is not coming here for a holiday. Dennis has to win but also put in the performance and I know he has in him. A win here for Dennis changes his life and puts him in with the big boys.”
This close to a fight most of the hard work is done. Those at DDP should know if it will be a financial success. If the reaction and media backing is anything to go by it looks like the latest Irish promoter to enter the fight scene is just a Hogan win away from a perfect night.
“The reaction has been great to the card and event. There is great competition down here. There are more shows in Australia in one weekend sometimes than the whole year in Ireland which I know is changing now but that’s a lot,” Keegan continued.
“The quality of the shows here are very high the talent is high and we hope to show that on this card.”
“The media have been all over this event. We have been on Fox Sports numerous times and all the papers have picked up on it.
“The three major TV stations are covering it too. There is a big appetite for boxing here and with Jeff [Horn] winning the world title I think Australia is about to go through a boom.“
“There are five or six guys coming after Jeff who will now believe they can do it to and will burst out over the next 12 months.”
On a personal note, Keegan is enjoying his new role in the fight game and although he admits it’s hard work he is adamant this will be the first of many successful shows.
“I have always worked behind the scenes with Dennis helping him with sponsors tickets media and so on, but this is different.”
“It’s full on, but it’s brilliant. Not much down time as I run my full time business alongside trying to get everything done for our first show, but I love the work it’s all going to be worth it.”
“This is event is the first of many. This is a long term plan for us. Our first goal is to be the biggest boxing promoter in Australia. That might sound arrogant but I’m not working this hard just to be okay, we want to get better with every show we do.”
Photo Credit: Mick Richards